The Internet—at least on the hockey side of things—has been ablaze after JR Superstar's comments regarding Patrick Marleau. If you haven't seen the clips yet—or missed it live because you were watching the game on a muted TV at a restaurant in the Midwest like yours truly—then follow the link here.
Now that is some sports commentary. All too often these guys turn into talking heads as they just babble along. It's good to see someone shake it up every now and again even if you disagree with what was said.
But you shouldn't disagree.
Roenick, for all his flair and attitude, was spot on with his assessment of the long-time Shark.
The play in question came during the closing minutes of Game 5. The Red Wings had played a great period of hockey, and with under seven minutes to play, were buzzing in the offensive zone. Patty Marleau had the puck on the boards with just a few feet to go to clear the zone. If he makes the simple play we could be talking about a Vancouver-San Jose Western Conference Final.
Pavel Datsyuk, being the thief/magician/magnet that he is, high-jacks the puck and takes it the other way. Marleau makes a few embarrassingly uninspired strides to catch up with the Russian Bandit, who apparently saw him coming. No. 13 turned Patty inside out before making a pass to the wide open Nick Lidstrom.
Now we're going to see a Game 6 tonight.
I'm not ignorant enough to pin the Sharks loss of this hockey game on Patrick Marleau. But he should have shown some kind of desperation on the play. A diving poke check. A body check. Some kind of attempt to do something to break the play up.
Instead he gets spun around, and shadows Pav as he fades out of the slot. Maybe that's his assignment, but he had already blown it. How Patrick Marleau doesn't make some kind of leader-esque effort to make something—anything—happen is beyond me.
And after the play? Nothing. Just more sagging shoulders for Patrick Marleau—the NHL's version of Charlie Brown.
Is this the kind of response you'd want the guy wearing an A to respond? In so many words, hell no. I understand that Marleau is a quiet kind of guy, but this is the point in the season where you throw out the hockey talk—the ho-hum answers players continually throw out during the regular season—and make a statement. But none came.
He doesn't even seem upset.
This is just one play we're talking about, sure. But he's been invisible otherwise and has zero points in the series. I'm not worried when he touches the puck. I'm more scared (terrified) of rookie Logan Couture at this point.
And the Sharks flat out have not gotten it done while looking to Patrick as a leader.
JR would know. He spent two years playing for the Sharks in a last ditch effort to win a Cup. And he was generally the gutsiest player on the ice for San Jose during his tenure there. So he has seen Patrick's leadership, or lack-thereof, first hand.
If anyone is in a position to call Patty gutless, it'd be Roenick.
Mark Emmons over at San Jose Mercury News had a chance to talk to Roenick yesterday following his comments, and not surprisingly, JR didn't back down one bit.
And why would he?
Until Patrick Marleau can carry his team to the Promised Land he will continue to carry the stigma of being a poor leader. He shows up on the score board enough. He piled up 13 points in 14 games last year—right before the Sharks were swept by the Chicago Blackhawks.
It isn't a question of talent for Marleau. It never has been and it never will be. It's been a question of guts and intangibles. Until he starts laying down in front of pucks, winning battles in the corners, and going to the dirty areas, I'll be inclined to agree with Jeremy Roenick's comments.
What do you guys think? Comment below and let me know if you agree with Roenick, or if you think we're missing something here.
Either way, enjoy Game 6. Should be a good one.
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