Patrick Marleau has been criticized his entire career for his lack of intensity, effort, and tenacity. He will certainly go down as one of the best Sharks of all time, but his time in the NHL is dwindling down. Patty is 37 years old and has shown a major decline in his game compared to his 37 year old buddy, Joe Thornton. As one door closes though, another opens and Timo Meier is the man who's skating through.
Meier hasn't played an NHL game yet, but he's been a man amongst boys in all of the prospect/rookie camps. He had a great training camp last season before being sent back to the QMJHL. He was having another great training camp until mono put him on the shelf for about a month.
Peter DeBoer and the rest of the Sharks coaching staff know what Meier can do and that is why he almost certainly will be spending most of the next season up with the big boys. Meier's arrival couldn't come at a better time. This is most likely Marleau's last season with the Sharks since he is in the final year of his contract and will not be worth the same $6.67 million price for a renewal.
Think of what Marleau is most known for: speed, scoring, quick release, and a big body. Meier is all of that plus more. Timo isn't afraid to play physical and drop the gloves when he needs to. He doesn't shy away from the dirty areas and he certainly doesn't hold back his speed.
Marleau has been seen holding his speed in his back pocket during times of his career much to the dismay of Sharks fans and the I'm sure management. He's been one of the fastest players in the league for most of his career yet he doesn't use it on a nightly basis.
Timo was a captain in juniors and was the bonafide leader on his Halifax Mooseheads team until he was traded towards the end of the season. In juniors getting traded doesn't mean the team is unhappy with a player. It typically happens when management knows that a player won't be coming back to juniors the next season so they use their value to bolster the future of the organization.
Meier went on to the Memorial Cup, which is the biggest junior honor that a player can have, next to the World Junior Championships. He came up short, but his production was spectacular. In the playoffs he had 23 points in 18 games. He's a guy that never quits and that is not a phrase that has been used in reference to Marleau.
Marleau hasn't deserved all of the criticism he's received, but a lot of it was warranted. Patty will probably still end up with his number 12 in the rafters of SAP Center, but Meier could be that extra piece that pushes the Sharks over the championship hump.