Doug Wilson mostly mum on Sharks signing Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton
Wilson was mostly the mother of Marleau, Thornton's Sharks Futures originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
It's rare for a team's fanbase to pay attention to a 41-year-old in the NHL Free Agency, let alone two. But it's rare for a pair of 41-year-olds to have as much influence on a team as Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have on the Sharks.
Thornton and Marleau, the No. 1 and No. 2 in the 1997 draft, are the longest tenure and highest score players in San Jose history. Together they played 2,555 games and scored a total of 2,157 points.
The pair are currently full free agent, and Sharks general manager Doug Wilson played shyly on Friday when asked for discussions to bring both players back. Wilson admitted the Sharks are hoping to "have some news [about Marleau] here in the near future," but not much else.
“The respect we have for both Patrick and Jumbo, and what they have done for this franchise, is extremely important to all of us,” Wilson said on a conference call with reporters on Friday. "And during that time, when I say (about) these conversations, I'll share them if necessary. But what Patty and Jumbo have achieved is very special. I'll leave it there."
Neither Thornton nor Marleau will have minutes or money in the front row for the next season, but both players have shown that they can still make effective contributions. Marleau scored 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 66 games with the Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins last season and scored at least 10 goals in his 22nd straight season. Thornton scored 41 points (seven goals, 24 assists) and averaged just 3:30 p.m. ice time per night.
Marleau told reporters on a visit to San Jose in February after it was sold to the Penguins that he hoped "the door is open" to return to the sharks in free hand. Thornton told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun on Friday that he was in no rush to sign, but expressed disappointment with the trading deadline in which he was not traded to a Stanley Cup contender.
The Sharks have playoff ambitions after finishing last in the Pacific Division and Western Conference last season. But is that enough to satisfy Marleau and Thornton in their quest for their first Stanley Cup? If Marleau and Thornton re-sign and San Jose misses the playoffs for the second year in a row, it's definitely possible the veterans will be sold to cup chasing teams by the deadline.
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Given their age, both players should benefit from having more time to recover in a longer off-season as the start of the next NHL season is not yet set in stone. Marleau last played with Pittsburgh in one of the NHL playoff bubbles in Toronto on August 7th, after the season resumed, while Thornton has been training at HC Davos in Switzerland since August.
Whenever the next season kicks off, both Marleau and Thornton could hit important milestones by wearing a Sharks sweater. Marleau only has to play 45 games to hit Gordie Howe's record, while Thornton is only 11 assists away to become only the seventh player in NHL history to have 1,100 assists in his career.
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