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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Patrick Marleau Reminds Us Why He is a Powerful Force for the San Jose Sharks

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Tonight's game in Colorado between the Avalanche and the Sharks started out rather routine. Brent Burns opened the scoring for the game in the first period. This is notable in that it was Burns' 20th goal this season, which keeps him firmly in place as the highest scoring defenseman in the league this season! Midway through the 2nd Jerome Iginla scored the only point by either team in the period to tie the game at 1. Then in the 3rd Patrick Marleau emerged as the real star of tonight's game. In under 8 minutes Marleau scores 3 times. Andreas Martinsen scored the 2nd and final point for Colorado shortly following Marleau's 3rd goal of the final period of play. The Patrick Marleau show continued on from there, if his hat trick were not enough reason to remind us why Marleau has been a key player for the Sharks for the past 18 years, he went on to score his 4th goal of the night and the game winning goal with less than 4 minutes left in the game.  Marleau is the first player, since Mario Lemieux in 1997, to score 4 goals in one period and only the 12th player in NHL history to accomplish this feat!

The final score tonight was 5-2. In this game Marleau with 4 goals, and Burns with 1 goal and 2 assists, led the Sharks to their 5th straight victory and helped to keep them in second place in the Pacific Division just 1 point behind the Ducks.

As Marleau's contract is up this year and he will be UFA as of July 1st there has been much speculation about whether we are reaching the end of the Marleau Era for the San Jose Sharks. His current contract has him earning an average of 6.66 million annually which is about 300 thousand a year less than his previous contract. On paper, Marleau's performance has indeed been declining over the past several years. His career high in points came in 2005-06 with 86 points and 34 goals, since then he has had only 5 years with 70 or more points by the end of the season. Last season he had only 48 points with 25 goals even going all the way through post season to the final round of the playoffs.  Before tonight Marleau had only 12 goals and 20 points at the half way point of this season which would have projected him to have one of his worst seasons ever.

If that lack of offensive production continued throughout the season, I believe it to be very likely that he would not be resigned. While tonight's game does not guarantee his future with the Sharks when it comes time to renew his contract, it reminds the team and all of us why we should not write him off.  If, and it is still a big if, Marleau can continue to contribute more steadily to the Sharks scoring efforts in the second half of the season he may be able to secure another year or two in teal if he so chooses. Given that he has played his entire professional hockey career with the Sharks, it follows that he may want to retire in a Sharks uniform as well.

I have long been a fan of Patrick Marleau and hope that he will have at least one more season in teal, but only time will tell.  I will leave you with this final thought... after tonight's 4 goal game Marleau sits at 497 career goals, this means that if he can score 3 more this season he may well become only the 45th player in NHL history to reach the 500 goal benchmark.... Just a little food for thought before you dismiss the idea of Marleau remaining a Shark after July 1st.
   

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