SAN JOSE – Patrick Marleau will be immortalized Saturday when the No. 12 he wore for 17 of his 21 seasons with the Sharks is officially retired by the team and raised to the rafters at SAP Center.
Marleau, though, doesn’t want that to be the final chapter of his Sharks career, saying Thursday that he’d like to be a part of the franchise in the future in some capacity.
“I would love to be involved with the Sharks organization for sure, as much as I can,” said Marleau, who also has four children, all boys, and a home in Florida. “Try and find something I’m good at. We’re in talks.”
Last May when he officially retired from the NHL after a decorated 23-year career, which included becoming the league’s all-time leader in games played, Marleau was noncommittal about his future, saying he wanted to concentrate mainly on spending time with his family.
But Mike Grier, Marleau’s Sharks teammate for three years from 2006 to 2009, indicated after he was hired as the team’s general manager last summer that he wanted team icons like Marleau and Joe Thornton to be around on a more regular basis.
Thornton, who played for the Sharks from 2005 to 2020, hasn’t officially retired but has spent considerable time with Grier and other members of the Sharks’ front office in recent months as he decides what he wants to do next.
It also appears that Marleau, if he joins the organization, won’t immediately have a defined role, as he gets a taste of various aspects of the business.
“We’ve talked about a couple of jobs,” Sharks president Jonathan Becher said. “He may start in more of an internship job at the beginning, meaning, instead of doing one thing all the time since he’s not sure, try five or six different things until he finds the one that he’s most passionate about.”
Other former Sharks who are part of the team’s front office, coaching, development, and scouting staff include Evgeni Nabokov as the director of goaltending, Mike Ricci and Tommy Wingels as player development coaches, and John McCarthy as the Barracuda’s head coach.
“I wouldn’t expect us to announce (Marleau’s title) next week,” Becher said. “But you might start seeing Patrick Marleau doing lots of stuff and you’ll know he’s learning how to do different things. Maybe then six months later or something, he goes, ‘this is the one I want to do.’
“He could be a scout, he could be hockey ops, he could be a player development person. Maybe we ask him to billet a Barracuda player,” Becher added. “Patrick’s a pretty special guy. His training techniques are as good as anybody I’ve ever seen in the league. He doesn’t look like a physically intimidating guy like Brent Burns, but his weight technique is pretty amazing. There are a lot of things he could do.”
Thursday, a teal flag featuring a No. 12 overlapping Marleau’s silhouette was raised outside of the rotunda at city hall, as San Jose mayor Matt Mahan officially declared Saturday, “Patrick Marleau Day.”
In 21 seasons with the Sharks, Marleau became the Sharks’ all-time leader in goals, points and games, and the face of the franchise to millions of hockey fans across North America.
“You can’t mention San Jose without mentioning the Sharks, and you can’t mention the Sharks without thinking of Patrick Marleau,” Mahan said.
Marleau said there was no way he could have envisioned having a day in his honor at city hall or having his jersey number retired when he first arrived in San Jose in 1997, still just 17 years old. At that time, Marleau, a Saskatchewan native, wasn’t even sure what the city looked like.
“I think in my head, I had a vision of just a lot of beach,” he said, “a lot of sand.”
Marleau’s brief speech Thursday in front of his family and a few dozen fans and friends served as a preview as to what he’ll say Saturday in front of over 17,000 people, as he becomes the first Sharks player to have his number retired by the organization.
“I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to be able to come to a place like San Jose, where this community embraced the Sharks franchise and players like myself with open arms,” Marleau said. “San Jose has been one of the most important places in my life. I’ve lived here for more than half of my life. I met my wife, Christina here, all of our boys were born and raised here.
“What I love about this community is the people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made over the years.”