Marleau, Tuukka, and paying it forward
The San Jose Sharks pulled the trigger on a homecoming this week, bringing Patrick Marleau back to where his NHL began over 20 years ago by way of a one-year deal worth the NHL minimum $700,000.
(Off the top of my head, five other reunions I’d love to see; Joe Thornton to Boston as the B’s third-line center that propels them to a 2020 Stanley Cup, Ilya Kovalchuk to Atlanta as the Thrashers return from beyond the grave and win the Southeast, Dustin Byfuglien to the Blackhawks and back in Chris Pronger’s nightmares, Matt Duchene to the Avs, and Senators’ fans to happiness.)
It’s a feel-good story, but it’s kind of funny to see the way many have spun Marleau’s return to The Bay. You’ve been quick to hear that this was the only team that Marleau was going to sign with (did he even have a market?), how this is the perfect fit for him, and how this will help San Jose.
Many have pointed to the loss of captain Joe Pavelski, and how Marleau’s status as a veteran leader will help fill that void. It’s an interesting thought, but it also ignores that the team has a new captain (Logan Couture), and a pair of former captains (Thornton, Erik Karlsson) on their roster. They’ve also played enough postseason contests to know what the hell needs to be said to right a ship.
The reality is that this really does nothing to address what’s really gone wrong for the Sharks.
Yes, the Sharks could use some more secondary scoring (who couldn’t? This is the NHL in 2019), but it’s kinda funny to think Marleau is the answer to their problems after an undeniable burnout with the Maple Leafs down the stretch in 2018-19. I mean, Marleau became such an albatross that the Maple Leafs happily moved a first-round pick to ditch the final year of his contract, and the ‘Canes team that acquired him immediately bought him out. They didn’t try to get creative with it.
But San Jose’s struggles have almost nothing to do with their offense. It hasn’t been great by any stretch (they have just five goals through the first four games of the year), but it’s San Jose’s defense and goaltending that’s appeared severely overmatched through the first 240 minutes of 2019-20.
Unless Marleau’s switching positions at 40 years old, there’s nothing he can do to fix that.
At least they got a good story out of it.
Other tidbits and notes
- Give me more rivalries like Drew Doughty vs. Matthew Tkachuk. Give me dozens of them, actually. While the National Hockey League has always considered themselves ‘above’ these kind of one-on-one rivalries typically reserved for the NBA and NFL, the undeniable hatred between these teams made an otherwise meaningless early-season head-to-head between the Flames and Kings a must-watch. Hate is good. I wish the NHL would embrace it more than clinging to this idea that ‘classy’ reigns supreme.
- The criminally underrated Mark Stone might flirt with 100 points in 2019-20 playing with this Golden Knights crew. My goodness. Getting a good look at this team in Tuesday’s head-to-head with Boston, the Golden Knights are one of these teams that can impose their will on you in the offensive zone if you give them even an ounce of space to create. They did exactly that in the first period, and were buzzing in search of the game-tying goal in the third period before the B’s slammed the door shut.
- Gritty is the best thing to happen to hockey. Please do not at me, unless it’s to praise Gritty.
- Toronto fans may hate this one, but with Tuesday’s win over the Golden Knights, Tuukka Rask now has the most wins by any goaltender drafted by the Maple Leafs. Traded to Boston in exchange for Andrew Raycroft (now an analyst for NESN, the TV home of the Bruins), the Rask-to-Boston story always remained an interesting one to me. I’m sure many of you already know, but in the event that you don’t: The Bruins were interested in acquiring Toronto’s other goaltending prospect, Justin Pogge, in exchange for Rask during those 2006 trade negotiations. But then-Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. didn’t really seem all that interested in trading Pogge, who had won Gold for Team Canada at the World Juniors the previous year, out of Toronto. Ferguson Jr., of course, is now with the B’s front office, and Rask is a perfect 3-0 in playoff series against the Maple Leafs.
- We were talking jerseys on Twitter last weekend when I heard from a reader/listener who mentioned how he was never able to get this jersey that he really wanted, as he’s disabled and lives on a fixed income. Understanding this struggle, as well as how difficult life can be when dealing with a fixed income, I wanted to do my part to help this person out. Anything you could donate to helping make his wish come true would be fantastic. I linked to his Venmo in my tweet, which can be found below.
Ty Anderson is a writer, columnist, and weird personality for 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, where he covers all things Boston sports. He has been covering the National Hockey League for HockeyBuzz.com since 2010, and has also been part of the Boston Chapter of the PHWA since 2013. In addition to writing, Ty can occasionally be heard on the air at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, and seen and/or heard on the NHL Network every now and then. He will not give you his email, so yell at him on Twitter (@_TyAnderson).