It will be must-see TV for the NHL when Toronto Maple Leafs’ Patrick Marleau forward takes the ice against his former team, the San Jose Sharks on Monday.
It will be Marleau’s first game in San Jose and 1st game against his former team after playing the first 19 seasons of his NHL career in San Jose.
Marleau, 38, is the Sharks’ all-time leader in games played (1,493), goals (508) and points (1,082) and there are only six players in NHL history who have played more games with one team than Marleau did with the Sharks.
Opening night this season was the first time San Jose has played a game without Marleau in their lineup since April 7, 2009.
“I don’t know how I’ll react when it happens,” Marleau said recently about returning to San Jose.
“Hopefully there is someone beside me making jokes or something. Keep things light.”
Marleau anticipates a special occasion, one that will be very emotional as well, and expects friends and family to attend the game.
“My wife is taking care of those things,” Marleau said. “I think most of the friends and family who are coming took it upon themselves to take care of themselves.”
“We had some really good teams there and still fell short and didn’t win the Cup,” Marleau said. “I think it just goes to show how hard it is to win it. Everything’s got to line up for you.
“It just gives you something to strive for.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Patty cried at some point on Monday,” Sharks’ Joe Thornton said. “You spend 19 years in a place; well, he’s so beloved out there. The people obviously loved him. I’m sure he’s going to get a really, really warm welcome when he gets back.
“He’s a great human being, a salt-of-the-earth type of guy. He’s just one of the really good guys in the game, and I got a chance to play with him for a long time. I never took it for granted either. I appreciated every day I had the chance to play with him. Phenomenal teammate.”
“I think he’s got a great heart,” Sharks defensemen Brent Burns said.
“He cares for a lot of people. He did a lot for the people in this room, for the city, for the fans. He grew up there, and it’s pretty special. Obviously, we’re going to do something pretty special.
“For me, personally, he was huge for me. He taught me a lot, even just by watching. He didn’t say a lot. He didn’t have to. He had a pretty great personality. He was a pretty good buddy. We had a lot of fun.
“He was quieter, but then again most guys are quieter than Jumbo (Thornton).”