After scoring five points in the final four games of their first round victory over the Los Angeles Kings in 2011, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau had a rough start against the Detroit Red Wings in Round 2, going pointless through the first six games of that series.
The disappearance led to Marleau's former San Jose teammate and VERSUS (RIP) analyst, Jeremy Roenick, to call him out on national television:
Roenick did offer some praise after the Sharks eliminated the Red Wings in Game 7 with Marleau scoring the game-winning goal.
So what's the back story on Roenick's harsh criticisms of Marleau?
In his new book, "J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey" (with Kevin Allen of USA Today), Roenick explains how his fascination with bringing the talent out of Marleau led to a late night housecall.
[Nick Cotsonika: NHL lockout taints Hall of Fame ceremony]
Here's the book excerpt via David Pollak of the Mercury News:
"One night I even went to his home to discuss the struggles he was going through. It was around Thanksgiving. I was with my family at home. But I couldn't stop thinking about the team and how dominant the Sharks could be if Marleau would realize his potential. After thinking about it all day, I couldn't take it anymore. I left my family, climbed into my car and drove to Marleau's home. My intention wasn't to yell at him. I wanted to inspire him, to let him know that his teammates were behind him. I went there to tell him that I believed he could be one of the league's very best players if he just altered his game slightly. He needed to play with more of an edge. He needed to show some bigger balls when the game was on the line.
"What no one seems to understand is that I believe Marleau is a special talent . . . Marleau frustrated me when I played with him because I wanted more from him. He was earning $6.9 million per season and I just didn't believe he brought the superstar effort that you would expect from that caliber of player.
"I tried to tell him that that night, but I could tell 10 minutes into our conversation that I was wasting my time. He considered my arrival at his house an intrusion. He listened to me, but he never did anything to change the way he was."
Marleau -- who was likely thrilled to be answering questions about comments from Roenick yet again -- spoke to Pollak this week and found the idea of a teammate coming to his home to inspire potential "comical". He also used the word "agenda" twice in regards to the root of Roenick's issue with him during their two years together with the Sharks. Marleau then defended himself against those who question his desire to win.
From the Mercury News:
"To say that I don't care about my play or winning or being gutless is absurd," Marleau wrote in a text message. "I wouldn't have left home at 14 years old to play a game I didn't care about. I want to win more than anyone. Just because I don't jump up and down acting like a buffoon on the ice doesn't mean I'm not into it."
Last season, Marleau put up 64 points and reached the 30-goal plateau for the sixth time in seven seasons. Solid numbers, but in a cap world -- and a Capgeek world -- 64 points and 30 goals isn't enough to some people for a guy making $6.9 million.
It's the albatross that many NHLers from Chris Drury to Scott Gomez have battled during their careers.
Roenick's comments, while shocking, weren't totally over the line for someone who gets paid to be on television and provide his opinion while tap-dancing near the line of controversy.
The Sharks were scheduled for seven games on NBC's networks this season before that whole lockout thing happened. If it ever ends, we'll be most interested to see if Roenick's fascination with Marleau continues, should the 33-year old forward find himself in a slump around the same time the Sharks are scheduled to be appear on the network.
Stick-tap David Pollak for the book excerpt.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
- Sports & Recreation
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- Patrick Marleau
- Jeremy Roenick
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