Toronto Maple Leafs

Patrick Marleau packed and off to Toronto

marleau-walkingintoarena-ap.jpg
AP

Patrick Marleau packed and off to Toronto

It was last week when Patrick Marleau was spotted wearing his brand new Toronto Maple Leafs blue, as he practiced at Sharks Ice with several of his former teammates.

He’ll get to wear it now in much friendlier surroundings.

On Wednesday, Marleau’s wife, Christina, tweeted a picture of the Sharks’ all-time leading scorer at the airport, taking his hockey gear to his new home. A Maple Leafs hockey bag was piled atop a Sharks bag that will surely be replaced as soon as he gets to Toronto.

NHL training camps open on Friday, Sep. 15.

Marleau signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with Toronto on July 2, ending his 19-year run in San Jose. The Sharks host Marleau and the Maple Leafs at SAP Center on Oct. 30.

Marleau wore 'out a few carpets' making decision to leave Sharks

Marleau wore 'out a few carpets' making decision to leave Sharks

Patrick Marleau’s decision to leave San Jose for Toronto was, naturally, an arduous one.

“I think I’ve worn out a few carpets pacing around the house trying to make this decision over the last couple days,” said Marleau, who signed a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Maple Leafs on Sunday, ending his 19-year run in San Jose. 

“But, I’m extremely excited and happy to be a part of the Maple Leafs organization. It’s definitely an honor to be able to call myself a Maple Leaf, obviously being a Canadian-born player. This decision took me quite awhile to come to, but I’ve made it, and I’m happy with it. I can’t wait to get started.”

It’s certain that the Maple Leafs’ contract offer, which reportedly includes a full no-movement clause and is front-loaded with a salary of $8.5 million in the first season, was much better than what the Sharks were offering. The most recent report had a two-year contract offer from San Jose, and a source recently told NBC Sports California that other teams were willing to put significantly more money on the table than were the Sharks. The Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars were also thought to be in the running for Marleau’s services.

Toronto, though, won out. Head coach Mike Babcock has always been a Marleau fan, coaching the forward in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics as Team Canada captured back-to-back gold medals, and his presence behind the bench played a role.

“Having known [Babcock in the Olympics]…the work he’s done over his career speaks for itself,” Marleau said. “Knowing what he’s doing there with the team he has, and knowing what I can contribute, is extremely exciting for me.”
 
The Maple Leafs are among the league’s young teams on the rise, with Calder Trophy winner Auston Matthews and forward Mitch Marner leading the way. They made the playoffs in 2016-17 for the first time in four seasons, losing to top-seeded Washington in the first round in a tightly contested six-game series in which five games went to overtime. 

Marleau, who is as durable a player as there is in the NHL and takes tremendous care of his body, will surely be counted on to show the youngsters how to act like a pro.

A reunion with the Sharks will come early, as Maple Leafs visit SAP Center on Oct. 30. San Jose appears at Air Canada Centre on Jan. 4, and Marleau and his family should be settled in by then.

Pondering that move across the continent is why Marleau’s decision dragged into the second day of NHL free agency, after most high profile players – including Joe Thornton, who has committed to return to the Sharks on a one-year deal – had made up their minds.

“The [Sharks] owners, Hasso Plattner and all the other owners here, the organization has been first class to me over the 19 years that I’ve been here. My wife and four boys, it was extremely tough to finally pull the trigger and have them move to a new country across, you know, from one coast to the other. 

“But everybody here in our house is extremely excited to be a part of the Maple Leafs and where they’re going. I’m ecstatic to be a part of that.”

NHL Gameday: Sharks host talented Toronto teens

NHL Gameday: Sharks host talented Toronto teens

Programming note – Sharks-Maple Leafs coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 36-18-7, 79 points, 1st Pacific Division
Maple Leafs: 28-20-13, 69 points, 4th Atlantic Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks will play their first home game after the bye week enjoying a five-point lead on the division, with two games in hand on Anaheim and Edmonton. They have a real opportunity to open up a sizable advantage in the hopes of claiming their first division title since 2011.

“We see [the standings], everybody’s watching,” Tomas Hertl said. “Edmonton, Anaheim lost a couple games. That’s good for us. … We know during the playoffs how important it is starting at home. We for sure want to be on top in [the] division.”

***Toronto features one of the NHL’s more dangerous offenses, averaging 3.10 goals-per game. Teenagers Auston Matthews (30 goals, 54 points) and Mitch Marner (48 points), both 19 years old, are its top two scorers.

“Dynamic young players. I can’t remember in my time in the league, which is getting close to the last decade, young guys coming in making this type of impact,” Pete DeBoer said.

Mikkel Boedker is familiar with Matthews, a Scottsdale, AZ native, as he skated with the Coyotes from time to time before he was draft eligible.

“You could just see it then that he was something special and had a drive for the game and a love for the game,” Boedker said. “We’ve got to watch out for him.”

***As for Boedker, he’ll try and build off of his strong performance in Vancouver on Saturday, when he scored in the third period ending a 19-game goal drought.

“The points haven’t been there and that’s obviously something that I’m personally disappointed with, but there’s nothing you can do other than work hard at it,” he said. “That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. I feel like I’m doing that out there, and I feel like I’m getting better every game still."

***The Sharks’ third line of Hertl, Joel Ward and Chris Tierney will apparently remain intact, with Tierney skating in the middle. That group helped generate two of San Jose’s four goals in a 4-1 win Saturday.

Rookie Marcus Sorensen will draw into the lineup for his third NHL game, while Micheal Haley was back after needing Monday off for personal reasons.
 
KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Mikkel Boedker. After he was benched yet again in the third period of the Sharks’ final game before the bye week on Feb. 19 against Boston, Boedker responded with a strong game in Vancouver on Saturday, scoring his first goal in 20 games and registering five shots, tying his season-high. The winger has 20 points (7g, 13a) in 60 games.

Maple Leafs: Mitch Marner. Out for the last five games with what was thought to be a shoulder injury, Marner is expected to return to the Toronto lineup tonight. The 19-year-old rookie is second on the team in scoring behind only fellow first-year player Auston Matthews, and had nine points (4g, 5a) in his last nine games before getting hurt.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Tomas Hertl – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Marcus Sorensen – Micheal Haley – Melker Karlsson

Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Maple Leafs
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitch Marner
Leo Lomarov – Nazem Kadri – Connor Brown
Matt Martin – Brian Boyle – Nikita Soshnikov

Morgan Rielly – Alexey Marchenko
Jake Gardiner – Nikita Zaitsev
Matt Hunwick – Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen (starter)
Curtis McElhinney

INJURIES

Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.

Maple Leafs: Tyler Bozak (infected finger) and Mitch Marner (upper body) are day-to-day. Joffrey Lupul (sports hernia), Stephane Robidas (knee) and Connor Carrick (upper body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“You just have got to keep taking a step in the right direction every game, and lately I feel I’ve been playing well and been doing some good things out there. Our line I think has been finding some good chemistry. We’ve got to continue that.” – Mikkel Boedker