As the 2021-22 NHL season approaches, the San Jose Sharks are gearing up for a year in which they look to bounce back after two underwhelming seasons in a row. With the roster assumed to be finalized, it looks as though Patrick Marleau’s iconic run with the Sharks has most likely come to an end. After 21 seasons with San Jose, Patrick Marleau has left a legacy that will forever live within the organization.
Mr. San Jose Shark has been the face of the franchise for the past couple of decades and will go out as the current franchise leader in almost every offensive category, including goals (522), games played (1,607), and points (1,111). Selected second overall in the 1997 NHL Draft, Marleau was the franchise player that both the Sharks organization and the Bay Area needed.
After Marleau was drafted in 1997, the Sharks went on to make the playoffs an astounding 16 times out of the next 18 seasons. This was especially impressive because when Marleau joined San Jose, the team had only been in the league for 6 years. While the franchise had previously caught the attention of the hockey world twice by upsetting the number one and two seeds in the Western Conference on back to back years during the 1994 and 1995 playoffs, Marleau was the superstar that would put the Sharks on the map as an NHL powerhouse.
During Patty’s 21 year tenure with the Sharks, San Jose made one Stanley Cup Final appearance and four Western Conference Finals appearances while scoring 68 goals, with 16 of those being game-winners. While the Sharks could never quite climb to the top of the mountain and win their franchise’s first Stanley Cup, there was no doubt that they were one of the best teams in the Western Conference for numerous seasons.
With all of the success that the Sharks had throughout their early existence and the continued success throughout the 2010’s, this caught the attention of the Bay Area population who early on, most had never given hockey any interest or thought at all. This was where the major importance of having a player like Marleau, who was not only a superstar but also a player who stuck around with the same franchise for just about all of his career, was so important.
During Marleau’s tenure with the Sharks, the Shark Tank sold out on a nightly basis as the fan base grew rapidly and the interest in the game of hockey in the Bay Area skyrocketed. Not only were fans excited and rushing to the games, but there was also a massive increase in the Bay Area of people wanting to play the game themselves.
While Marleau has been a cornerstone for the San Jose Sharks franchise, he has also been a huge factor in the massive growth of the game of hockey in the Bay Area. When the Sharks first arrived to Northern California in 1991, ice hockey was a sport that was all but impossible to play due to the lack of rinks and interest in the area. Today, there are ice rinks scattered all throughout the Bay Area, with even more being built right now, where both youth leagues and adult leagues continue to grow. San Jose is now home to the largest adult hockey league in the country and the Jr. Sharks youth program continues to grow every year as well.
This past season Patty gave Sharks fans a monumental milestone to celebrate during a forgettable season when he broke Gordie Howe’s all-time games played record in the NHL cementing himself into the NHL record book for years to come. When thinking of the long line of Bay Area sports legends, Marleau’s name should be up there with all of them.
The three-time NHL All-Star played a huge role in San Jose’s prolonged success and will forever be remembered as a Sharks franchise legend. Once Marleau’s NHL career official comes to an end, there is no doubt that his jersey will forever hang in the SAP Center rafters and he will always be remembered as Mr. San Jose Shark.Embed from Getty Images