The anxiety of #MarleauWatch was high because the gamble is mutual.
Of the 1,670 NHL games Marleau has played in the regular season and playoffs, six have come in the Stanley Cup Final, and he has never hoisted hockey’s ultimate prize. He turns 38 in September and will be 41 at the end of this contract. The Sharks were offering two years and likely a better final shot at winning before retirement.
Why leave, then? And, why the Leafs?
It was extremely difficult, he said. But I’m extremely excited and happy to be a part of the Maple Leafs organization. It’s definitely an honor to be able to call myself a Maple Leaf, obviously, being a Canadian-born player. This decision took me quite a while to come to, but I’ve made it and I’m happy with it.
Marleau cited Leafs coach Mike Babcock as a draw. Babcock coached him on Canada’s Olympic team and is a noted fan. There’s also the youthful excitement, as Marleau termed it, surrounding emerging stars like Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. Marleau likely will start the season on Matthews’ left side and Nylander will be on Matthews’ right. The baby-faced trio won’t come off their entry-level contracts for two more seasons and thus Marleau’s cap hit shouldn’t factor into their extensions.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan confirmed the worst Tuesday: Sidney Crosby has a concussion, the result of a Matt Niskanen cross-check to the head that will leave Pittsburgh without its captain for at least Game 4. No doubt it throws the remainder of the second-round playoff series against the Capitals into a state of uncertainty.
It’s the latest in a long line of injuries which have robbed the NHL of its transcendent superstar.