The San Jose Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for one more season
Storytime: a few weeks ago I’m driving home from a baseball game that saw an older veteran hit get a walk-off hit to score the winning run in the 11th inning. On my drive home I listened to New York sports radio. The radio host, given the overnight shift on a late summer Friday night, expressed his disbelief that such an old player like him could contribute at such a big moment. In the radio host’s words, “he’s old, he’s not as good, and the game has passed him by.”
Now that my little baseball analogy is over, let’s shift back into hockey mode. There’s a handful of players that fit the “he’s old, he’s not as good, and the game has passed him by” mantra. One of them is still unsigned unrestricted free agent Patrick Marleau. Marleau finished his third stint with his original and primary team, the San Jose Sharks, bypassing Gordie Howe’s record of NHL games played last season.
Marleau is old, and at 42 years old was the league’s third-oldest player last season behind Zdeno Chara and former Sharks teammate Joe Thornton. Marleau is not as good, only scoring nine points while playing in 56 games last season. But has the “game passed him by”?
The San Jose Sharks should re-sign Marleau. Will he make the team better? Probably not, but the Sharks are still going deep into a lengthy rebuild, with little to look forward to this year, unfortunately. Bringing Marleau back gave players and prospects a veteran presence. Don’t sign him for much and put him on the fourth line, where he’s sure to be an upgrade over projected fourth line center Dylan Gambrell.
Now that we went through a few general reasons to keep the Grandpa shark around, let’s look at this from a business sense, and for Marleau’s legacy. They might be Sharks, but they’re sure to be bottom feeders in an already miserable Pacific Division. Signing Marleau for one more year can allow the fans to give the fair well tour he properly deserves. Why should his illustrious career end during a season with empty home crowds?
The Anaheim Ducks did something similar in Teemu Selanne’s last season with the team. In the offseason before the 2013-2014 season, Selanne signed one more one-year contract, with the intention this was his last ride very clear. Then again, the Ducks were still contenders that year, although Selanne’s numbers (27 points in 64 games) weren’t all that much better than Marleau’s last season.
The 42-year-old Patrick Marleau is still unsigned. the San Jose Sharks should give him one more season to give him the send-off he deserves.
Even with his advanced age, the ageless wonder Marleau can keep up. In what may have been the oddest and most crazy scheduled NHL season of our lifetimes, Marleau still played in all of his team’s 56 games. Then again, it was a shortened season and three of those games saw him on the ice for less than ten minutes. His season-high was 17:51.
Most importantly, Marleau doesn’t seem like he wants to retire. Now if normally the time of year when veterans who might have been hoping for one last season the ice see the writing on the wall and decide to hang them up (for example, look at Travis Zajac). At the end of last season, Marleau even said retirement is off the table.
So come on, San Jose. Do it for the fans and do it for Marleau. Let him have one more season of cheering crowds in the Shark Tank before his jersey goes to the rafters. He might even be the only reason people buy tickets to watch the team, anyway.