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The Other Side of Patrick Marleau (+)



Credit: San Jose Sharks

“He’s not gonna talk about himself.”

That’s Patrick Marleau, according to Patrick Rissmiller, Marleau’s teammate from 2003-08 with the San Jose Sharks.

So I reached out to a host of past and present teammates and coaches – Peter DeBoer, Marcel Goc, Tony Granato, Erik Karlsson, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, Alyn McCauley, Kyle McLaren, Todd McLellan, Timo Meier, Mike Ricci, Rissmiller, Jody Shelley, Marco Sturm, Joe Thornton, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic – to get a glimpse of another side of Marleau.

What raunchy comedy movie did Marleau always used to quote? What’s Marleau’s most memorable…dance move? Which Hall of Famer’s book helped teach a teenage Marleau how to skate so fast? And what is the origin of the Marleau routine of jumping into the cold tub between periods?

From One Hall of Famer to a Future Hall of Famer

Patrick Marleau, on a Paul Coffey book that was a formative influence on him: “I don’t know how it came to be in my hands. But there was a book from Max Grocery Store with Paul Coffey and it had all these different training exercises in it, to get fast.

“Obviously, Paul Coffey being one of the best skaters of all time, I took that into account and said if he’s doing this stuff, I’m going to give it a shot. I used that in probably my early teen years to try and better myself.”

What’s Kept Patty Ticking?

Claude Lemieux, San Jose Sharks, 2008-09: “He is built to last. I knew he would play a long time.”

Marco Sturm, San Jose Sharks, 1997-2005: “Well, we started the same year. He’s a year younger. I felt like because I had already played with men, a couple years pro in Germany, I felt like I was ahead of some of the junior kids. But not Patty.

“Somehow, just the way he’s built, the way he skated, the way he played the game. Even [as a rookie], it was pretty impressive.

“I met his dad and his brother. And they’re built the same way. He’s a farm boy. He’s natural strong, I would say it’s good bones.”

Alyn McCauley, San Jose Sharks, 2002-06: “His skating has allowed him to kind of move with the game. When he started, it was still the same time I did, there was still a fair amount of clutching and grabbing going on. There was more to fight through.

“The speed of the game now, some of those players probably wouldn’t have done as well or survived in this environment, but just because of Patrick’s skating ability, I think it’s allowed for him too — and hockey sense plays a part — but I just think the skating has allowed him to stay in the game for this long.”

Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks, 2018-21: “Consistency is key. He’s a creature of habits. Even in this time in our life, when things are difficult. A lot of other guys are taking the easier way out, whether that’s dress code or spending less time at the rink and more at home.

“He has kept his routine that he has had for so long, extremely intact. He stayed true to himself through every single game that he’s played so far in this league. That tells you a lot about the dedication that he has to this game and why he’s in the situation that he’s in.”

Jody Shelley, San Jose Sharks, 2007-10: “He didn’t waste any time. Didn’t waste any time on foolishness, whether it was a conversation, or in a weight room, he didn’t waste time on it.

“He was the fastest dresser. I would be putting my elbow pads on. It was elbow pads then jersey then helmet, then gloves. I’d be putting my elbow pads on, I got about three-and-a-half minutes left to get dressed. And I’m a talker.

“Patty would be walking in his underwear, socks, and like underlayer, and he’d be [fully] dressed at the same time as I would. What’s the word? It’s not economical, it’s efficient. He is efficient in everything that he does everything. Everything.”

Patrick Rissmiller, San Jose Sharks, 2003-08: “I picture him, laying on the floor doing some stretches with like a band or something before practice, before the game. I just remember watching him. We’re all like half-dressed, we’re going on the ice in probably 10 minutes, and he’s still there.

“But he’s never late. He never even was close.

“The first time I saw [his routine], I’m like, is he going to be ready? But he’s [always] ready.”

Shelley: “There might be two or three Patty Marleaus.”

Peter DeBoer, San Jose Sharks head coach, 2015-19, on introducing “rest as a weapon” to the Sharks when he took over: “The same work ethic and commitment to doing all those things that I saw when I got there, [working out and practicing], was also something that we talked about at length with [Marleau, Thornton, Pavelski, and Burns], that they were aging, maybe we needed to be a little smarter about the amount of work they would put in both in the gym and on the practice sheet. Those guys were very receptive to that. I think it did help us during my time there.”

Mike Ricci, San Jose Sharks, 1997-2004: “I remember we used to joke around, I would say you can play until you’re 60. Obviously, I was exaggerating a bit, but maybe not as much as I thought.”

The Cold Tub

Shelley, on the Marleau routine of jumping into the cold tub between periods: “I don’t know if I’d call it a bath. It was more a shock to the body.

“We’d get into the locker room and he’d be walking out in his underlayer to go in the cold tub. He would get dried off, put his underwear layer back on, and he’d be getting dressed, and I’d be looking at him thinking there was no way, there was no way, that he’s going to be walking out with us when we walk out to the ice — and he’s right there.

“Just smirking and smiling.”

Tony Granato, San Jose Sharks, 1996-2001, on Marleau remembering Granato’s routine of taking a cold tub between periods: “I’m inspired by the fact that he remembers that I did that. That’s awesome. (laughs) I did it for different reasons. I wasn’t playing a lot towards the end. So for me to stay in the game, I would do that, made sure I got re-energized for the next period. That is so funny that Patty’s doing that. I didn’t know that.

“I don’t remember who I learned it from. My last couple years, I used to play 20 minutes a game, dropped down to 15, then 12, and then 10. You’re like jeez I only played a couple shifts that period, how do I get ready for the next period? So I jumped into the cold tub, that’s pretty easy. Once I got into that routine and you felt good doing it, then you just stick with it. I did it probably my last two or three years.

“He would mock [us]. He would just sit back in his stall, probably laughed so hard at me and all my routine. He’d look over at Suter and laugh at his routine. He’d at Marchment and see his routine. He probably thought these guys are crazy. And he’d just sit back and take it all in.

“That’s what I remember about Patty, just being very observant of what was going on.”

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks, 2007-21: “He gets completely undressed and then redressed [between] periods. I mean, if I did that, I would have missed the game. It’s incredible that he gets dressed and undressed within a minute, a minute and a half.”

Timo Meier, San Jose Sharks, 2017-21, on if he’d try the cold tub one day: “I don’t think so. (laughs) I mean, getting undressed and dressed between periods, it takes a lot of energy. I’m more of a guy that tries to take some rest between the periods.”

Last Man on the Ice

Marleau, on why he’s always the last San Jose Sharks player out of the tunnel: “Growing up, Mario Lemieux was one of my idols. He always went last so I just thought that’d be pretty cool to do if I ever got the chance. It took me a little while to work my way back in the line-up.

“As seniority goes as a rookie, you just slot in wherever you can. But I slowly worked my way to the back of the line and just kind of stayed with that routine.”

The Other Side of Patty

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs: “He comes off very reserved. But once he gets comfortable, he’s an amazing guy to hang out with. Loves to have fun.”

Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs: “I think Christina is probably the one that brings out a lot of his emotion, a lot of his laughter.

“Just so many stories about playing mini sticks in his basement with his kids [and Auston Matthews] until late hours, and always saying next goal wins and someone scores, hockey net gets blown out of the way, sticks are getting thrown, stuff’s going nuts.”

Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks, 2005-20: “His laugh is just so fun. When he’s excited, he’s like a little kid.”

Sturm: “He loves watching movies. I don’t know if he still does that. But when a new movie came out, he’d watch it like three, four times in a row

“He catches a lot of good lines in the movies and he’d repeat it when we were out. ‘Wedding Crashers’ – that was the go-to movie.”

McCauley: “Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison, that certainly seemed like Patty’s kind of humor.”

Thornton: “He knows everything about every comedy over the years. He knows a lot of little one- liners.”

Sturm: “After a couple beers, he has good dance moves. I can tell he is a dancer.

“You know the Sprinkler? He did that pretty well. I can’t do it.”

Marner: “It was so much fun always going out to dinner with him, but it was almost too painful because he wouldn’t never let anyone else pay for a bill.

“He’s played in San Jose a long time. He’s got some great selection in some wine.”

Kyle McLaren, San Jose Sharks, 2002-08: “Great dad, husband, and lastly a hockey player. I remember Halloween parties, he always, along with his wife, would dress up in some amazing costumes.”

This Is Patrick Marleau

McCauley: “My first full year in San Jose [in 2003-04], we didn’t have a captain. We just had a rotating captaincy, every 10 games I believe it was. And if the team did well, you got to keep it for the second 10 games. I can’t remember all the rules.

“Patrick had it for a little while, I had it for a little while, and going into the playoffs, I was told that they wanted me to have the captaincy. I said, that’s great, it’s an incredible honor, but I really feel like the future of this team is Patty. Everything I’ve seen from him, the way he carries himself, he’s the guy that we should give the captaincy to. So it was agreed upon that we’ll give it to Patrick.

“And he performed extremely well in that playoffs, we lost out to Calgary in the Conference Finals. I know Patrick, over the years, took a lot of criticism for not getting the team to the promised land or winning the Stanley Cup.

“When I was in Toronto, I heard the same things about Mats Sundin. In some respects, they’re quite similar. Good people away from the rink, elite talents on the ice, and they performed at a really high level. Just because a team doesn’t achieve the ultimate goal, doesn’t mean those players didn’t put their best skate forward and didn’t deliver. I always thought it was unfair, unjust to Patrick to take some of that criticism.”

DeBoer: “It would have been a Saturday or a Sunday practice day for us at our practice rink at Sharks Ice. I was there early. I wandered into one of the other rinks, there’s three or four rinks there. And there was a youth hockey game going on and Patty Marleau was sitting in the crowd, in the middle of the other hockey parents, watching one of his sons play.

“That tells you everything you want to know about Patty. Great hockey player, great teammate, but a great father, a guy that never wanted to be any different than Joe Public.”

Todd McLellan, San Jose Sharks head coach, 2008-15: “I remember he missed a flight to Nashville to stay back for the birth of one of his children. I don’t remember which one it was. And the next day, he was on a private jet, flying all the way back out to meet the team and perform again. He didn’t want to miss either event, which I think speaks volumes for him as a family man, but also as a teammate.”

Marcel Goc, San Jose Sharks, 2003-09: “He took care of me after a concussion. We flew home from the East Coast. I don’t know how many times I asked him the same question over and over again. But the last time I asked him, we were landing in San Jose, I turned around, he starts smiling. I was like, Shit, I asked you already. He was like, yeah. But he took care of me there.”

McLaren: “I remember when we picked up Jumbo Joe from the airport in Buffalo [after Thornton was traded to San Jose]. It was snowing and cold. Had to take a taxi to get him. He said this should be fun. But he was so excited to get a chance to play with Joe and vice versa.”

Granato: He just brought so much excitement to me and [Gary Suter] in particular. [Suter and I] were buddies hanging together and rooming together and we were going through the end of our careers together — and to have a young guy like that come…I got a picture with Gary and Patty on Team Picture Day. I don’t remember how we orchestrated it, but Suts said let’s get Patty. I got that picture in my office of us three, in uniform, I got that one in a frame.

Bob Boughner, San Jose Sharks head coach, 2019-21: “Patty and I talked in the summer a lot. Before he was signed, he called me up, and he asked me, do I want him back? And I said, absolutely, of course, it was a no-brainer. For me, trying to reset the culture in the dressing room, what better guy?

“That’s just the kind of guy that Patty is. He wants to make sure that everything else is in the right place, and that this [record] wouldn’t be a distraction. He always thinks of others first, he thinks of teammates first, and of course, the organization. That speaks volumes on his character. It was a weird conversation to have with a legend, but it just goes to show you what he’s all about.”

Vlasic: “When you say Patrick Marleau, I’ll say he’s the greatest Shark to ever wear the jersey.”

Special thanks to Ryan Cowley for his assistance with this project. Check out Ryan’s “30 Sharks” series, featuring interviews with San Jose Sharks alumni that celebrate the team’s 30th anniversary.

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