Monday’s game in Denver provides a signature moment for Patrick Marleau’s career in San Jose. He started the third period demoted from the top line through little to no fault of his own and instead of pouting, Patty went to work. Marleau scored three goals in a row and after the Avalanche got one back, he decided he’d get one more.
And what a fourth goal it was. Thornton understandably made headlines for his four-goal-game comments, but Marleau was always the more likely of the pair to cross this task of his bucket list. If anything’s surprising, it’s that it took him so long.
Patty entered Monday’s game averaging 0.26 goals per contest this season. That’s the fifth-lowest of his career and makes his sudden scoring outburst all the more surprising. But Marleau still knows how to find the back of the net and as he showed with his fourth tally of the evening, those hands still hold a bit of magic.
When we wake up tomorrow his hockey-reference page will show his 0.33 goals per game as being middle of the pack. That doesn’t mean Marleau will score the way he did back in the early 2000s, and frankly the Sharks don’t need him to, but it seems report of Marleau’s death were greatly exaggerated.
Patty sits three goals away from 500 career markers and his bid to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame continues to build steam. What looked like a longshot a few years ago now feels like a legitimate candidacy. Only eight retired players with more than 500 goals have been kept out of the Hall of Fame, and most (like Teemu Selanne) will be in soon.
Reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season helped Marleau’s case, but winning one before his career ends would make him a lock. Barring that, he needs another couple productive seasons because hockey doesn’t look favorably upon longevity unless it comes with scoring. So far that hasn’t been a problem with Marleau.
He’s taken a step back from his high-flying days of the late 2000s, but he isn’t ready to hang up his skates, either. Here are Marleau’s goals per game totals from the last five seasons, starting with the 2012-13 campaign:
His career goals per game average stands at 0.34, making this another average year of scoring for the 37-year-old winger. $6 million a year may be too steep a price, but if the Sharks can bring him back at a bit of a discount for another two years at similar productivity, they’d be foolish not to. Marleau might not score another four goals in a period, but he might get himself into the Hall of Fame. That’s a deal everyone in San Jose can get behind.