Monday, November 23, 2015

Patrick Marleau : Stands for more than just 1,000 points

By Larry Wigge

Every successful athlete knows that timing is important. He must BE IN the moment.

Take 36-year-old Patrick Marleau.

A little more than 18 years ago, Marleau was the second pick overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks held at Pittsburgh's Civic Arena, which was located across Centre Avenue from where Consol Energy Center is now.

On November 21, Marleau added two assists in a 3-1 San Jose Sharks victory over the Penguins. His first assist seven minutes into the game set up Joel Ward, who in turn, dished a pass Brent Burns for a 1-0 lead.

"That's really cool," Marleau said. "Being drafted here and getting the 1,000 points here, there's some significance here in Pittsburgh. It's something I'll always remember."

Joe Thornton, who just happened to be the No. 1 overall pick ahead of Marleau, said that Patrick is a quiet star, not like so many of the others over the years.

"You can look for someone who has a loud voice and big persona. But players look for someone who is a quiet leader, someone who knows the right thing to say ... and when to say it," explained Thornton. "Patty plays hard EVERY DAY -- at practice and in the games.

"He's an example for all of us to follow. You want someone who symbolizes that work ethic."

Marleau was in the moment in 1997... just as he is today.

The Aneroid, Saskatchewan, native, accumulated a total of 461 goals, 539 assists in 1,349 games gave him 1,001 points -- all with the Sharks.

He didn't accomplish the feat with a wrist shot or a slap shot like you would expect. But setting up a goal ...

"It's funny, but I remember watching this kid with so much potential, so many skills, as a junior player," Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said, breaking out in a wide smile. "We were sold on his character and the type of person he was, but the total package is what we drafted."

There may not be any more 30-plus goal seasons like the seven the 6-2, 220-pound forward produced in his first 16 seasons. Last season, the 6-2, 220-pound forward had 19 goals. But ...

"This guy is one of the best players in the last 10 or 15 years," said coach Peter DeBoer. "He's in great shape. I think last year was a bit of an aberration. He's come out with a lot of other guys to prove that."

"Marleau is big, strong and fast. Give him a step and he's gone," Predators defenseman Shea Weber told me.

"He gets on you pretty fast," Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller added.

Look no farther than his six goals and seven assists in the first 20 games this season. Three of those goals have been game winners -- 90 game-winning goals in his career.

In the moment ...

You can predict certain things from watching a 17-year-old player. But the intangibles that translate into a leader normally can be traced back to a player's upbringing. For Patrick Marleau, that's being brought up by Denis and Jeanette, his parents, whose farm in tiny Aneroid concentrates on cattle, grain and wheat.

"I’ll never forget those days when we would come home from school, get our chores done and then go out to the dugout, shovel off the snow and play hockey until it got dark," Marleau said. "School, chores and then hockey. That’s what my dad always reminded my brother, Richard, and me."

It was a culture that breeds hard work and solid citizens.

There’s a post office, a general store that serves gas, a grain elevator and Shaw's hotel, which has seven guest rooms in Aneroid (population 40). But there's no stop light and the nearest high school was more than an hour away in Swift Current.

"I'll never forget where I came from. Never," Marleau said recently. "I remember when I left for San Jose hearing my dad say, 'Son, never forget your roots.' "

Marleau paused and kind of hinted that Aneroid will always be a part of him. Like learning to skate in the dugout -- where the cattle would go for water. When the water would freeze over, Patrick and Richard Marleau had some really competitive games of one-on-on. They also became good friends with the caretaker of the local skating rink.

"We called him Tony Zamboni," Marleau recalled. "We were always knocking at his door. I think he would wait for us sometimes, then would let us in."

Sort of like Patrick Marleau’s own little Field of Dreams story -- at the dugout and the their own little skating rink in town.

"I was small until I was 15-16, something like 5-9, 5-10," Marleau recalled. "Then I had a spurt, when I was 16 and grew to 6-0, 6-1. I felt bigger and stronger and more confident."

Now, Patrick is one of the most difficult players in the NHL to game plan because of his size and speed.

After rotating the captaincy, Patrick Marleau became the Sharks' full-time captain during the 2003-04 season.

Marleau will tell you that he thinks he really grew up when he met his bride, Christina, a couple years ago and then they were blessed with a son, Landon Patrick, just before this season.

"It's been unbelievable, something you can't begin to describe. It's just joy. When you're on the road for a while, you can't wait to be at home, holding him. Especially now when he's starting to do facial expressions, laughing and giggling," said Marleau, who wanted to let us know that he scored one goal and added an assist in the first game young Landon attended. "It’s easier to go home and get my mind off the game ... all the worries ... and come back refreshed."

He laughed at the thought of his youngster, saying, "I'm not too bad at diapers."

Never once has Patrick Marleau lost that little boy’s desire. He’ll never forget that shoveling the snow off the dugout so he and his brother could skate after school. He'll never forget getting personal access to the town rink thanks to Tony Zamboni.

But hard work is something Patrick Marleau is not allergic to. And that drive and competitiveness all started back on that 1,600 acre farm in Aneroid, Saskatchewan.

No comments:

Post a Comment