With the ink now dry on their four-year contract extensions, forward Patrick Marleau and center Joe Pavelski have made commitments to stay with the Sharks for a long time. Although each players had the option to test free agency --- Marleau was one of the top unrestricted free agents available and Pavelski was a sought-after restricted free agent --- the decision to stay in San Jose was an easy one for both.
“I’m very happy to be coming back to San Jose,” said Marleau in a media conference call on Thursday. “I’m living and playing here and one of the things I wanted to do right after the season was try and work something out with San Jose. I’m really happy with the way things turned out.”
“For me as a player and everything we want to accomplish with the team, the decision came pretty easy,” Pavelski said in a separate call. “It was a fair deal. I’ve seen enough players come in and heard them talk about how great this organization is. This is really a place where I want to be --- and four years --- I’m pretty excited about that.”
“Fair” was a word both players used to describe the contracts they signed and the negotiation process. Their decisions to sign four-year deals, instead of long-term, front-loaded contracts like many other big-name players, shows their dedication to the structure Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson is trying to sustain.
“We have a structure in place and that’s what we’ve been doing with all our players,” Wilson said. “We’ve been doing this for six or seven years. Contracts have to have a relationship to their teammates because ultimately what we’re trying to do is keep this group together.
“We’re coming into a wonderful time with this organization where we have a four-to-five year window and they wanted to be a part of it,” he continued. “This sent a strong message to their teammates and to the fans that this is where they wanted to be.”
Marleau had no doubts about wanting to stay in Silicon Valley. Although he explained that he didn’t know how San Jose felt about bringing him back, the 30-year-old said he had known he wanted to return at the start of the season and never wavered on that feeling.
“My top priority is winning and I feel I have the best chance of winning here in San Jose,” Marleau said. “I’ve been here for a while now and I’d like to see things through and win a Cup here in San Jose.”
Pavelski’s also buying into Wilson’s structure and explained that if his contract allows him to re-sign other free agents, then he’s all for it.
“Obviously there are certain areas where you’ve got to cut back and if this was a little help, then that’s a good thing,” he said.
“I think when we step out on the ice and we come into camp everyone is trying to accomplish the same goal,” Pavelski concluded.
THOUGHTS ON NABOKOV Wilson’s announcement about Marleau and Pavelski comes just two days after goaltender and unrestricted free agent Evgeni Nabokov wasn’t offered a contract. The players had only positive things to say about their former teammate.
“I can’t say enough about Nabokov,” Marleau said. “He and I came in together at the same time and he played some really great hockey for this organization. He’ll have success wherever he goes.”
“Every year there are changes,” Pavelski said. “Obviously Nabby’s been the backstop for quite some time and it’s always tough to see a face like Nabby’s leave. Everyone had a lot of respect for what Nabby has done and he’s going to be missed. But at the same time we have to move forward. So whatever happens in the locker room, we’ve got to get the job done.”