Patrick Marleau has been to the San Jose Sharks what peanut butter is jelly since the day they drafted him second overall in 1997. His natural offensive ability and savvy defensive prowess has elevated Marleau to elite status and propelled him to number 78 on our list of top players in the NHL today.
Marleau is unquestionably the face of the San Jose franchise and he has earned the right to be viewed as such. Marleau has played in 1,117 career games – all as a Shark. He is the teams all-time leader in goals (387), even strength goals, power play goals (118), points (830), shots (2,724), playoff points (88, playoff goals (52) and games played.
Marleau is three time all-star (2004,2007 , 2009), was named San Jose Mercury News South Bay Sportsperson of the Year in 2006, named a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy in 2007, voted Sharks player of the year three times (2004, 2009, 2010) and a gold medal winner with Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The 33-year-old veteran has yet to show any signs of slowing down with age. In fact, he appears to be getting better with every new grey hair on his head. After failing to reach the 30-goal mark in his first seven NHL seasons, Marleau has scored at least 32 in six of his last seven campaigns – including a career-high 44 in 2009-10.
Perhaps the only reason Marleau isn’t higher on our list is due to the well documented postseason flame-outs by the Sharks. San Jose has won the Pacific Division six times since 2001, (2001-02, 2003-04, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11) and nabbed the Presidents Trophy in 08-09 as the leagues best regular season team. Not-so-coincidentally, four of those titles have been in the last five seasons, which happen to be some of Marleau’s finest statistical years.
Although it’s hard to find a flaw in Marleau’s game, he has become an accomplice to the Sharks playoff failures. San Jose has been a perennial Stanley Cup favorite for almost a decade, yet inexplicably, they cannot seem to duplicate their regular season success in the postseason. While Marleau’s offensive numbers are on par with his regular season totals, (averaging .68 points per game in the playoffs compared to .74 PPG in the regular season) it is his defensive numbers that crash and burn; a plus-29 in the regular season becomes a minus-11 in the playoffs.
Like a said, it is very hard to find any flaws within Marleau’s game. There is no doubt that he is a legitimate NHL star and one of today’s best players – winning a Stanley Cup with the only team he’s every know would be the final feather in his already impressive cap.
Northern California is known for having some great really great wine and we all know, wine gets better with age .Who knows, with both California brethern, the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, hoisting the Stanley Cup in recent years, it’s reasonable to think that Marleau and Sharks may not be far behind.
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