Things are about to change in a big way for Patrick Marleau.
He’s leaving the San Jose Sharks – the only team he’s known for the last 20 years – who are a veteran group 13 months removed from competing in the Stanley Cup Final.
Now, after signing a three-year, $18.75-million deal, he’s a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a young Canadian team on the rise.
And that, essentially, was the sales pitch the 37-year-old forward was given, he told Tim & Sid on Monday.
“They just kept talking to me about the excitement in and around the team, talking to me about the group of guys that they have there right now and how they eat, sleep and breathe hockey,” said Marleau, the Sharks’ all-time goals and points leader.
“That sold me. I want to be part of that. They say they have a special group. I want to be one of those guys that plays there. Hopefully, we can build on that and have some success.”
Much of the excitement Marleau references surrounds the bevy of talented youngsters, highlighted by Calder Trophy winner Auston Matthews.
Marleau said he’s already spoken with the Leafs’ 40-goal scorer and can’t wait to join him and the rest of the group in Toronto.
“He brings that excitement to the game. I watched him this year out here on the west coast,” Marleau said of Matthews.
“You see these guys love the game. They’re ready to go. They’re tons and tons of energy. It’s exciting to watch. I want to be a part of it.”
The cherry on top of being a Maple Leaf for Marleau is getting to play for coach Mike Babcock again.
Marleau, who scored 27 goals this past season, was coached by Babcock on Canada’s 2010 and 2014 gold medal-winning Olympic teams.
“It definitely played a huge factor in it,” Marleau said of Babcock’s impact on his decision. “I look forward to having that pressure on me and having him want things out of me and pushing me. I expect a lot out of myself and I know he does, too. I’m ready for the work.”