Editor’s Note: Inspired by Andrew Sharp’s excellent #HotSportsTakes series at Grantland (R.I.P.), we will occasionally attempt to write the worst Sharks column on the internet. This is satire (or an attempt, at least), and should not be taken seriously.
Today, we’re writing a column set to run in a major Toronto outlet this Sunday, a week after the Maple Leafs signed Patrick Marleau. We apologize in advance for the terrible Canadian jokes.
Spend enough time in Silicon Valley and you’ll hear one word in every conversation: disruption.
Disrupt this, disrupt that, the iconoclastic innovators say, between bites of avocado toast that prevents them from affording homes in the ever-expensive Bay Area. It all sounds like a bunch of techno mumbo jumbo if you ask me. But Mark Zuckerberg’s got quite a few more zeroes in his net worth than mine, so he must be doing something right. After all, who am I, a sportswriter, to question the actions of a billionaire, unless it involves spending money on players I don’t like?
Silicon Valley has disrupted a few industries and made our lives a little easier. But there’s one product coming out of San Jose set to debut in Toronto this fall that will disrupt in all the wrong ways. And he’ll only cost 24330937.50 Canadian dollars over the next three years.
Ah, yes, Patrick Marleau. The Maple Leafs’ newest signee, relied upon to provide scoring and veteran leadership on a young team in desperate need of guidance. He might score, but this is a player who was infamously stripped of the captaincy in 2009. Marleau’s lack of leadership is a bug, except all the bugs are features of his faulty programming.
The Leafs needed antivirus software to stabilize their young core. Instead, they signed Patrick Malware.
I’ll admit I didn’t watch much of Marleau during his first 19 seasons in the league while he played for San Jose. For one, I don’t give teams that play in cities where the temperature doesn’t dip below my completely arbitrary standards the time of day. No snow? Then you’re a no-show on my television set. Second, Marleau’s games were often played while I was tucked under the covers and had turned off the television. This paper doesn’t pay me nearly enough to stay up past my bedtime.
The parts I did see, every April, May, and one June? Consider me unimpressed.
Scouts and ex-players I trust, who have sent me dispatches describing his play that were hand-delivered by Royal Canadian Mounted Police, do not trust Marleau. This is a player with all of the physical tools of an all-time great, but the laid-back mentality of an ECHL wash-out.
Even Jeremy Roenick couldn’t get to him. JR, Marleau’s ex-teammate, described leaving his family on Thanksgiving to go inspire Marleau. As he tells it in a 2012 book, Marleau wasn’t too happy to see his teammate show up to his home unannounced over the holiday, and viewed his ex-teammate’s “arrival at his house as an intrusion. He listened to me, but he never did anything to change the way he was.”
If Marleau was set in his ways then, as a 28-year-old, how is he going to handle criticism from teammates and coaches as a 38-year-old this fall? If he didn’t respond well to a teammate showing up to his home announced, what happens when one of my colleagues follows him to his favorite eatery? You can say he’s just “laid-back,” but that won’t help a Toronto club on the precipice of potential greatness. The Leafs don’t need California Cool. They need Fredericton Fire.
In that regard, Marleau reminds us not of the new innovations and iterations coming out of the Silicon Valley where he’s plied his trade the last two decades, but of the failed companies that came before.
He’s not Facebook, he’s Friendster.
He’s not Apple, he’s Atari.
He’s not Google, he’s Ask Jeeves.
So now, the Leafs find themselves in the same position as investors in the dot com boom: hanging on to a bad investment for dear life, hoping to salvage as much value as possible before the bubble bursts. In this case, the Original Six club can’t simply sell their stock, as Marleau’s contract contains a no-movement clause.
They paid a premium for an old, habitual stock so far from the cutting edge its symbol on the stock exchange could be ‘DULL.’ Marleau’s a bad investment in an otherwise stellar portfolio, a desperation buy in a market full of sellers.
In the NHL, much like Silicon Valley, one bad purchase is the difference between becoming an overnight success and an instant failure.
The Maple Leafs could have been Microsoft.
Instead, they’re MySpace.