Patrick Marleau and Jeremy Roenick go way back, and not in a chummy way.
The recently re-signed Shark and the current NBC Sports analyst played together for two seasons in San Jose from 2007 through 2009. After Roenick retired, he -- among other things -- called Marleau "gutless" after failing to score in the first five games of a playoff series in 2011, labeled Marleau as one of five players he "hated" during his career in his 2012 memoir, said Marleau was not "one of the (Sharks) locker-room favorites" in 2016 and predicted that Marleau would not score "20-30" goals in his first season with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017.
But Roenick struck a different tone in an interview with NBC Sports California, saying that Marleau "is not only a fan favorite, but will be a player favorite."
"I think it's a class move by (general manager) Doug Wilson, bringing Patrick back," Roenick said in an interview that will air Thursday on "Sharks Pregame Live" on NBC Sports California. "Not only that, nobody wants to see a Hall of Fame career go out the window without a proper ending ... and Patrick Marleau deserves that, and deserves to do that in the city that, really, he built. I think it's a great play all the way around, and hopefully Patrick can still play at a high level, can still score some goals and help this team."
In particular, Roenick thinks the Sharks will benefit from Marleau's experience. San Jose has three rookies and seven players younger than 25 years old on its roster, and Roenick thinks the team's young players will benefit from Marleau's mentorship.
Roenick said the Sharks' 0-4-0 start -- their first since 1993-94 -- gave Wilson an opportunity to "shake up the locker room." The losses on the ice necessitated changes, but so did San Jose's losses off of it during the offseason.
Former captain Joe Pavelski signed with the Dallas Stars on the first day of free agency, and the Sharks were forced to let him walk thanks to their salary-cap situation. Pavelski was the team's leading scorer a year ago, but Roenick said the void he left behind in the locker room can't be overstated.
"Look what they gave up in Joe Pavelski," Roenick said. "They gave up a 30-goal scorer -- at one time 40-goal scorer. They gave up the captain of their team. That's the guy everybody looks to. He's the heart and soul of the team. And they gave up probably one of the nicest guys in the NHL. He's a guy everybody liked. He's respectful, soft-spoken but still knows when to say something. And he's been there his whole career. ... It's very, very difficult to replace [what the Sharks lost in Pavelski] overnight."
Marleau scored 16 goals in 2018-19, his fewest in an 82-game season since 1999-00 and 22 fewer than Pavelski scored a year ago. The 40-year-old can't be expected to replace Pavelski's lost production, but Roenick thinks his former teammate can be a steadying force in the Sharks' locker room.
Time apparently does heal all wounds.
Why Jeremy Roenick thinks Patrick Marleau 'deserves' Sharks return originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area