Sharks

Former teammate: 'Crazy' that Marleau left Sharks

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AP

Former teammate: 'Crazy' that Marleau left Sharks

Jason Demers hasn’t played for the Sharks in several years, but he apparently stayed in touch with former teammate Patrick Marleau after getting traded from San Jose to Dallas early in the 2014-15 season.

Like many, Demers expected Marleau to remain with the Sharks for his career. Instead, the organization’s all-time leading scorer signed a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 2 as an unrestricted free agent. 

That officially ended Marleau’s 19-year run in teal.

"That was crazy," Demers, now with the Florida Panthers, told NHL.com. "For him to make that decision, I know him well personally and I know that was probably the biggest decision of his career. I don't think anybody understands on the outside how big of a decision that was for him. … In my head, after talking to him a little bit, I thought he was going to stay, but I think him and his family discussed it and I think it's going to be a great thing for him."

Many of Marleau’s current Sharks teammates expressed hope that the forward, who had 27 goals and 46 points in 82 games last season, would return to San Jose. Already a team that struggled to score goals, the Sharks will enter 2017 training camp with a number of question marks up front among their forward group.

Joel Ward, coming off of a disappointing season himself, said he was “surprised” that Marleau departed. He praised Marleau’s skating ability and work ethic, and figures he’ll fit in well with a young and speedy Toronto team.

"I've seen [his speed] firsthand, so for the fans in Toronto, you can expect a guy who can really move but even a better guy off the ice,” Ward said. “His work ethic is tremendous. In the gym, he is one of the strongest, and on the ice, he is one of the fastest guys leading the drills."

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Marleau, who was spotted on Wednesday in San Jose wearing his new Maple Leafs colors, will be sporting his familiar number 12 in Toronto, too.

Toronto’s Connor Brown wore the number for the Maple Leafs last season, posting 20 goals and 36 points in 82 games. Brown, though, suggested to the Toronto Sun that he was prepared to give the number up to the Maple Leafs’ biggest offseason acquisition.

“It’s a matter of respect,” Brown told the newspaper.

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

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AP

Sharks start training camp with familiar face elsewhere: ‘It’s kind of strange’

SAN JOSE — There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.

For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise's career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.

"I've spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange," said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. "It's his birthday today too. It's a little weird, but he's going to do great up in Toronto."

Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.

Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.

Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau's 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven't played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.

"Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group," captain Joe Pavelski said. "Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He'll be missed. ... Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That's what we'll need."

The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau's 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.

Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.

"When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries," coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think if we can stay healthy I think we've got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them."

While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.

He scored just seven goals — his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 — and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose's top line.

Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.

"They feel real strong," he said of his legs. "I feel a lot of pop out there. They're probably as strong as they've ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much."

Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

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Sharks Media Day highlights: Beards, smiles & cup checks

The boys were back together in San Jose on Thursday for Sharks Media Day, with plenty of smiles and moments of levity. Check out the highlights...

Hey Jumbo, you dropped something. 👖🤷‍♂️

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Martin Jones is pretty good at photobombs 📸💣

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🤳 Media Day #SJSharks

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New season. New commercials. 🕉🚌📺 #ComingSoon #SharksForLife

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