SAN JOSE – It may be his 16th training camp with the San Jose Sharks, but Patrick Marleau still feels like a kid on Christmas morning when hockey season officially begins.
The Sharks held their first on-ice session of camp on Thursday at their practice facility in San Jose.
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“I think there’s still the same excitement for me going into each year,” Marleau said. “It’s another chance to have another good season and try to win the Cup. A lot of guys go different ways in the summer and everybody comes back, and you get to hear how their summers went and catch up. It’s always exciting for me.”
Marleau had a bit of a strange season in the shortened 2013 campaign. He recorded nine goals in his first five games to open the season, including four straight two-goal games, tying an NHL record dating back to 1917. He managed just eight goals in the final 43 games, but was arguably the Sharks’ best player in their first round sweep of Vancouver, including scoring the series-clincher in overtime of Game 4.
During that series, Marleau skated on the wing with Logan Couture and Raffi Torres as his linemates. That trio was back together on the first day of camp, and it could very well stay that way until the season-opener on Oct. 3 against the Canucks. Marleau wouldn't object if that's the case.
“There’s some good chemistry there,” he said.
Marleau, who will turn 34 in three days on Sep. 15, senses a positive feeling surrounding his longtime team. Following the sweep of the Canucks, the Sharks fell to the Los Angeles Kings in seven games in the second round after finishing the regular season strong.
The club found it’s identity after a series of trade deadline moves, and hopes to keep the ball rolling when the 2013-14 season gets underway.
Marleau said: “I think it’s definitely positive. I think we felt we could have went a lot further last year. It didn’t happen, so I think guys should be ready to come back focused, and play that same style and have fun doing it.”
“It’s a high-tempo way to play. We have to make sure that we take care of ourselves off the ice, and on the ice practicing, and things that like. If we can do that and keep that high intensity and high tempo, it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch and a lot of fun to play in.”
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Defenseman Brad Stuart wasn’t among the 44 players broken up into teams on the first day of camp. The veteran defenseman’s status wasn’t immediately available, but he wasn’t on the ice earlier in the week when the team was taking part in informal skates, either. Whatever is keeping him off of the ice, it’s not thought to be serious.
Marty Havlat (pelvic surgery) was the only other notable absence. Havlat will not be available by opening night, according to general manager Doug Wilson’s update on Wednesday.
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Wilson clarified that the Sharks have just 49 players under contract, as prospect Chris Tierney does not count among the team’s 50-contract limit. That would leave the Sharks the option to sign Anthony Stewart if they choose. The big 28-year-old forward is the only player in camp on a tryout basis.