It’s September 2nd and for the first time in his career, Patrick Marleau does not have a contract for the fast-approaching NHL season. The soon-to-be 40-year-old winger was traded to and expectedly bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this summer because the Leafs could no longer afford his 6.25 million cap hit. The latest rumours point to him re-signing in San Jose to end his career where it began, which is the only way for his story to go in my opinion.
For his part, Marleau mostly performed up to expectations, notching 47 points (27G 20A) in 2017-18, which placed him 8th on the team in scoring (6th among forwards). He followed that up with 5 points (4G) in 7 playoff games, he was 2nd on the team in scoring only behind his linemate Mitch Marner. His production definitely dropped in 2018-19, with 37 points, 16 goals and just 2 assists in the postseason, but he is starting to fight the clock at this point in his career, and as they say, father time is undefeated. That being said, Patrick Marleau was so much more to this team than a scoring forward (and a Babcock favourite in most situations). He was a leader, a teacher, a father, and an example to live by. A true professional who does it right every day. Nowhere is this more apparent than the obvious impact his presence and influence has had on Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
This may be the end of Patrick Marleau’s tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the lessons and values he brought to the organization will last for far longer than any of his on-ice contributions. So for one final time, thank you Patrick, and best of luck with the rest of your career.
My Top 5 ‘Patrick Marleau as a Leaf’ Moments
5. 2 GOAL PLAYOFF GAME (April 16th 2018)
After the series began with a pair of disastrous games that seemed to spell a quick exit from the playoffs, Marleau led the charge in Game 3, scoring twice to lead the Leafs to victory and bring the fanbase back from the brink of many an angry Twitter tirade. Of course, that small amount of hope was totally extinguished about a week later, but it’s the thought that counts right? Great low-key celly too.
4. FIRST GOAL (October 4th 2017)
You never forget your first. Though in this case, this first comes nearly 20 years after the true first. It’s Marleau’s first regular season goal for a team other than San Jose, and while the play itself is nothing spectacular, it’s worth noting that the assists were awarded to his soon-to-be ‘adopted kids’ Matthews and Marner. The chemistry was there from day one, it just took the rest of us a little longer to see it.
3. THE SPEECH (January 20th 2018)
A cold Saturday night in Ottawa, the Leafs down 3-1 going into the 3rd. It’s the peak of a mid-season skid that has seen them lose 4 straight already. This was the situation when Marleau stood up and said enough is enough. Normally a stoic guy who leads by example, he was said to have gotten up and gave a speech for the ages, ironically enough on one of the few nights he played with a temporary ‘A’ on his chest due to an injury to Morgan Rielly. We may never know for sure what he said on that night, but it lit a fire under the team. They came out roaring in the 3rd period and snatched up a 4-3 victory. Not only was this Marleau’s most open display of leadership with the Leafs, it was also a turning point for the season in many ways, not least of which being that the team played at an above .500 pace for the rest of the season (winning 23 of 34 games) en route to a precedent-setting regular season record (49 wins, 26 losses, 7 OTL 105 points)
2. MONTREAL GOAL (April 7th 2018)
I have literally nothing to say about this goal. There’s really nothing to say about this goal. No witty commentary or clever insights to explain it’s placement on this list. The reason it’s ranked so high is that this goal is legitimately the funniest thing I have ever seen while watching a hockey game.
1. ‘LEAF TO LEAF’ APPEARANCE (February 23rd 2019)
A couple of seasons ago, the team started putting together these ‘Leaf to Leaf’ videos, usually featuring two current players chatting on a set, I recommend checking them out, most of them are pretty entertaining. Two such videos from this past season featured the dynamic duo of Marleau and Marner, and well, you have to check the video for yourself, words cannot do this moment justice. The moment I’m talking about is at about the halfway mark of the video (2:33 to be specific). It’s just a genuinely touching moment that shows the kind of guy Marleau truly is, and Mitch’s reply in kind shows the level of love and respect Patrick held in that room.
Stats from nhl.com & hockey-resource.com