San Jose Sharks welcome home former captain, franchise star Patrick MarleauSporting News — firstname.lastname@example.org (Sporting News)
Patrick Marleau is back in San Jose.
Marleau's new contract is a homecoming for him; he was taken second overall by the Sharks in the 1997 NHL Draft and spent 67.8 percent of the franchise's existence with the team, seeing San Jose transform from an expansion franchise into a near-perennial playoff contender.
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"This is an opportunity to add a veteran into our group to give us some veteran depth that's versatile, understands how we play and is very accepting of that role that Peter DeBoer may need on different nights," general manager Doug Wilson said in an interview featured on the team's Twitter.
Over his 19-year tenure with the Sharks, Marleau played in three All-Star games and became the franchise's all-time leader in goals (508), points (1,082) and games played (1,493). The Aneroid, Sask. native is also San Jose's first — and only — player to score 500 goals with the team and is one of just 11 players to reach the 1,600 game mark.
Marleau left the Sharks after the 2016-17 season to sign a three-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, with whom he tallied 84 points in 164 games while reaching the postseason twice. Toronto traded Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in June, who promptly bought out the final year of his contract. He became an unrestricted free agent but remained unsigned through the start of the regular season.
The 6-2, 218-pound center will finally return to his original team that currently features a banged-up supporting cast and looks to again return to the Western Conference Final and is still hungry for its first Stanley Cup Final.
“It was very trying," Marleau told reporters Thursday of his journey through free agency this offseason. "Pretty much a roller-coaster ride you couldn’t get off for a while. A lot of emotions, but I have to thank my family and friends and people reaching out to me, and fans... I think that was probably one of the humbling things you get from this is all the people who care about you and reach out to you. I’m very appreciative for all the support through this time."
San Jose has lost its first four games to start the 2019-20 campaign. Marleau will reportedly make his season debut against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 10. He has played in 788 consecutive regular-season games entering this season — according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun, that streak will continue since Marleau was not signed to an NHL contract during games that have already occurred this season.