When rumors were flying on the opening day of free-agency that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were on the verge of leaving the San Jose Sharks to sign deals elsewhere, Sharks fans were shocked. Sure, GM Doug Wilson had had months to negotiate extensions, but the two Sharks legends wouldn’t ACTUALLY leave the team, would they? In the end, one stayed and one left and Sharks fans are left to sort out what went wrong.
In his latest article for Puck Daddy, hockey writer Greg Wyshynski does a great job of outlining the courtship of both Sharks legends and describes the decision making that ultimately led them down separate paths. For Marleau, the opportunity to play for Mike Babcock and the promise of a three year commitment proved to be too enticing to stand pat in San Jose. For Thornton, despite receiving interest elsewhere, his heart never really left San Jose.
In particular, Thornton had ongoing discussions with Los Angeles Kings GM Rob Blake and was strongly considering joining the Sharks rival in LA. “It was nice getting courted by all these teams. I felt bad saying I’m going back to San Jose, but that’s where my heart is,” said Thornton. “I feel like I’m a Shark. It was a fun process. But yeah, I’m coming back.”
As for the departure of his good friend Marleau, Thornton didn’t spare any kind words when describing what he means to the Sharks franchise:
“Patty’s going to be a Shark for life,” said Thornton, “and he’s going to go down as the greatest Shark of all-time.”