Patrick Marleau had a great comeback season in 2008-2009 with 71 points in 78 games. He set a career high with 38 goals, in which 10 of them were game winners. In 2007-2008, he merely scored 48 points. For those of you who thought Marleau was finished after that, you probably were not among the leaders of your league.
I, on the other hand, picked him up in the late rounds and reaped the benefits.
This has been a terrible off-season for Marleau. From being the subject of multiple trade rumors to being blamed for the Sharks playoff demise to losing his captaincy, the media would have you think that Jason Allison has a better shot at 70 points.
Marleau must use the off-season speculation as motivation. The entire Sharks organization has A LOT to prove this upcoming season, but Marleau more than anyone else.
Wearing the “C” for any NHL team comes with a great deal of pride. It also comes with a great deal of responsibility. The load of an unsuccessful playoffs is solely carried by captain Marleau. Having lost his letter from the only organization he has played for is a slap in the face. However, it is also a harsh reality that Marleau was not good down the stretch.
This season, Marleau has to prove that he is a leader and show that striping him of his letter was unjustified. He can achieve this by leading the team in the locker room as well as on the ice where he needs to have another career year.
Possibly the biggest motivational factor for Marleau this upcoming season can be summed up in two words: contract year. For some reason, something happens to players when they are not guaranteed a contract the following year. Players from all major leagues become stronger, faster and more productive as if they were pressured from a all-powerful being. A being that allows them to continue living a comfortable life. It simply cannot be explained.
In all seriousness, a contract year is a very powerful factor in a players’ career. Marleau is unlikely to sign another $6.3 million per year contract, unless if he has an unbelievable season. However, if he wants to continue his career in the NHL as multi million dollar player, he must produce, produce, produce.
Marleau can either prove his critics wrong or he can buckle under the pressure. Since, the whole organization is under pressure, Marleau will have a good sized support system and will not be the only one to carry the blame, if the Sharks should fail. But the Sharks won’t fail – neither will Marleau. He (they) have too much on the line and too much talent.
Marleau is still among the fastest skaters in the league, he has never had major injury concerns and he proved last year that he can score a few goals. Given that Marleau plays a full schedule, he will score 35 goals, 40 assists, 75 points and he will help lead the Sharks past the first round. (THN predicts: 78 games – 35/35/70)
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