Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson inked Captain Patrick Marleau
to a two-year contract extension today. The deal is believed to be worth in excess of $6 million per season.
“We are pleased to get this done with Patty,” said Wilson. “It will allow the focus during the season to be on hockey, which is very important.”
Marleau has served as team captain since the fourth 10-game segment of the 2003-04 regular season. During his tenure as the Sharks designated leader, San Jose has posted a 122-64-20 record, good for a .640 winning percentage. This signing locks up Marleau for a combined three years as he has one season remaining on his current deal.
“It’s always nice to get it out of the way,” said Marleau.
While this is a major contract commitment by the Sharks, Wilson is appreciative of Marleau stepping up to the plate. Marleau holds nearly every major Sharks offensive record, including games played (717), goals (219), assists (272) points (491) and game-winning goals (41). He is second in franchise power play goals (67) to Owen Nolan (75).
“Patrick understands what we are trying to do, where we’ve been and where we’re going,” said Wilson. “He appreciates what our goals are and where we need to go. That is very important. Patrick is among the game’s top forwards and his stats speak for themselves”
Last season, Marleau finished second on the team in scoring with 78 points, second in goals (32) and assists (46) and was selected to his second NHL All-Star Game. He has scored at least 28 goals over the past four consecutive seasons and over 30 in the past two seasons.
Marleau’s speed and scoring ability stand out to anyone who’s watched an NHL game, but Wilson notes important intangibles his captain possesses.
“He wants to be a great player and winning is very important to him,” said Wilson.
Winning in San Jose would be extra special for Marleau, as it must be noted that the Sharks were able to draft him because they finished with the NHL’s second-worst record in 1996-97. Marleau, picked by the Sharks in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft (1st round, 2nd overall), has helped turn the Sharks from door mat to annual Cup contender and he wants to finish the job.
“We live in San Jose and wanted to stay, especially with the way the team is shaping up” said Marleau.
Marleau’s main focus is to deliver San Jose its first Stanley Cup. Over the last three Stanley Cup playoffs, Marleau has scored 20 goals, good for a first place tie with Calgary’s Jarome Iginla. In 73 Stanley Cup playoff games with San Jose, Marleau has posted a franchise-best 51 points (31 goals [1st], 20 assists [2nd]), along with eight game-winning goals.
“We have a great chance at the Cup,” said Marleau.
Having played his entire career in Silicon Valley, Marleau has also entrenched himself with the area.
“He has a great understanding of the need to give back and is very involved in the community,” said Wilson.
Among all NHL players 27 years and under (entering last season), Marleau has posted the fourth most career points (491), behind Thornton who is first. Furthermore, he is among the top 25 scorers in the NHL since the start of the 2002-03 season (122 goals, 156 assists for 278 points). Combined with the previous signing of Joe Thornton
, the Sharks now have the League’s most potent center combination for a minimum of three years.
“They make everyone around them better,” said Wilson. “It’s as good a 1-2 combination in the League.”
Team Teal’s four leading point producers from 2006-07 have all signed long-term contracts with the Sharks, some with time still left on a previous contracts: Thornton (four years), Marleau (three years), Jonathan Cheechoo (four years) and Milan Michalek (seven years).
“We take responsibility for trying to make San Jose a place where players want to play,” said Wilson. “We feel we can be proactive and we have to be with our decisions. We trust these players and they respect their teammates.”
The Sharks commitment to winning played a significant role in Marleau’s extension.
“It’s huge,” said Marleau. “Obviously, part of the decision to stay was Cheechoo and Thornton being locked in. And Milan too. To have those guys is a great start already.”
For Sharks fans, the Stanley Cup expectations should be set for years to come.