The irreplaceable Patrick Marleau's experience for Maple Leafs



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TORONTO – Just look at Patrick Marleau's numbers on the right, and yes, you may have a case.

The seemingly indestructible hockey player who still wears a two-piece stick and slides his 39-year-old feet into a pair of discontinued skates every night ranks second to the Toronto Maple Leafs salary chart, but only seventh in the team.

The first man in the ring and last out of the locker room has five goals and nine assists. Respectable, no doubt, but the current pace of 0.56 points per game of the striker puts him on track for his less productive season in 17 years.

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When the season started and Marleau took over from Zach Hyman in the top row, he did not attack the insta-chemistry with Auston Matthews center on the ice the two succeeded.

Since then, he has come up with more options than Nazem Kadri, assisting and almost turning into an attempt to break Toronto's 4-2 victory over Boston on Monday night.

But the fan segment that shouts that Marleau is overpaid and that particularly the third year of his contract – when he reaches 40 and difficult to buy and raise even more the NHL record – could harm Club cap image , you should realize why it is being paid in the first place.

Mike Babcock, probably the only recruiter who could have ripped Marleau out of San Jose at his free agency in the summer of 2017, was asked on Monday how Marleau helped in the development of gunner Matthews and Leafs, Mitch Marner. He cut off his questioner.

"You mean like [Kasperi Kapanen] and everyone you're not listening to? Babcock corrected. "Like everyone else, or any coach or any coach or someone who seems to be tired that day, or, I mean, either, he makes you a better human being just by walking you.

"You can not replace these things, especially with a young group.If you want to win, you need to have people doing it every day.It's hard to do right every day.Imagine to do it right every day, 82 times, where everything world is watching you every time you make a sound, every time you do something there is a microscope on top of you?

When Marleau skated (well, we might add) in his 1,600 game Monday and his wife, Christina, recorded his long standing ovation with his smartphone, and the Bruins all beat their sticks, and the club surprised the player, honoring the moment in Jumbotron, he joined an elite group that contains Gordie Howe, Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Mark Recchi, Chris Chelios, Dave Andreychuk, Scott Stevens, Larry Murphy and Ray Bourque, and that's it.

"What 10 or 11 of all time? To do this for so long and be as consistent and productive as he is, it's really remarkable, "said John Tavares. "How he behaves, how he prepares, how he plays the game – is a great example for everyone. This really sets a tone in the locker room. You expect some of this to rub on you, so you try to rub shoulders with it as much as you can, pick up your brain and get to know it.

"Even though he's played so long, he's just one of the guys."

Frederik Andersen calls Marleau the most humble man he ever knew. Marner calls him a goat. Matthews calls him into his hotel room to watch movies and get out.

On the first trip of this season, when a bunch of boys almost all the age of their career jumped on scooters and ran through the streets of D.C., Marleau was buzzing right there with them.

"The energy they have every day goes unnoticed to you, so I'll enjoy it as much as I can," Marleau said. "Everybody's still trying to get better, and that's what I'm trying to do, so it's fun."

Logan Couture of San Jose still maintains contact with Marleau. They spoke last season, and Marleau would tell Couture how things were different in Toronto. Couture is not surprised by his full tank or his success in Toronto, but the way he became the silent mentor in Toronto is a shift from his role in teal.

"We're a more veteran team than they were. There were not that many opportunities to get younger guys like that and kind of showing the way, but he liked to do that," Couture explains.

"A guy who's been in the league for 19 years, he's doing a lot of things right. If you can pick up a few things from them, this will benefit you in the long run.

"He's still a very good player and he's going to be a good player for a few more years, for sure."

Ironman now skates in 733 consecutive games. He needs a second to think about the last serious injury he has dealt with. Your idea of ​​being serious may not be mine or yours. A broken hand in the playoffs. A torn meniscus that required surgery in & # 39; 01. But he went through it because of course he did. Because extra stretching and a cold bath cure everything.

"I mean genetics," Babcock said. "He worked a lot, a very difficult, an incredible skateboarder, he loves the monotony of the game.Great, great human being.You could continue: lucky with injuries, the whole thing.Every hard worker, great professional, great person.so important for this team, nor is it funny and I'm not even talking about what he does on ice.He's fantastic.

If the old Reebok 9Ks are able to surpass the 57 remaining games this season and the remaining 82 in their contract for 2019-20, this will give Marleau 1,739 games, placing him third overall and only 29 shy in taking Gordie's record .

Imagine the ovation, because humility, you do not need.

"Those important nights," Marleau said after Monday's big success, "are much nicer when you get the two points."

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