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SAN JOSE – It’s no coincidence that the Sharks announced the signings of franchise stars Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau on the same day.
The captain, and the Sharks’ all-time leading scorer, agreed to three-year contracts on Friday, both of which include no movement clauses. Thornton’s deal carries a reported $6.75 million cap hit, while Marleau’s is slightly less at $6.66 million.
“If [Thornton] wasn’t going to re-sign here, there’s probably a good chance I wouldn’t have re-signed here, as well. It’s one of those things where we enjoy playing on the same team, we enjoy playing with each other, and we want to win together,” Marleau said. “I think that’s the way we feel, and the way we look at each other.”
Thornton’s contract terms were agreed to first, but he didn’t actually sign on the dotted line until Friday, shortly after Marleau’s deal was done, too.
Thornton said: “We wanted to stay here together, and sign together. It’s important that we both stay. We both feel like we have a shot to win every year, and I think that’s the most important thing. We both really believe in this group of guys, and we want to stay around to see us win a Stanley Cup here.”
Marleau acted as his own negotiator, after his agent Don Baizely passed away over the summer.
“I was able to pick up a lot along the way with [Baizley] and had a lot of faith in Doug, as well, that we could come to an agreement,” Marleau said.
Thornton and Marleau, both 34, are having outstanding seasons, as the Sharks are again among the NHL’s elite teams. Thornton leads the Sharks in scoring with 53 points and has a league-leading 47 assists, while Marleau has 47 points and was recently named to his second Canadian Olympic team.
Thornton is on pace for 85 points, which would be his highest total since 2009-10. Marleau’s 75-point pace would also be his best since that same year.
Both were pending unrestricted free agents, as Thornton’s current three-year deal which carries a $7 million salary cap hit and Marleau’s expiring four-year contract with a $6.9 million cap hit were set to expire on July 1.
While an expiring contract also brings with it the motivation to earn a new one, head coach Todd McLellan isn’t worried about any sense of complacency among the pair. After all, neither player has ever competed in a Stanley Cup Final series.
“They haven’t won a Stanley Cup. They haven’t been in the finals,” McLellan said. “If that’s not motivating enough… I look at some of the guys like Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk, and, in my own experience, Dallas Drake, that played for a number of years. The hunger grows as you get older because your opportunity for success is shorter.
“They obviously believe we can win here, or they wouldn’t have stayed. And the organization believes that, or they wouldn’t have stayed. And we believe we can win with them.”
Both players, who were chosen 1-2 overall in the 1997 NHL draft, have continually expressed a desire to remain in the Bay Area despite the potential of getting more dollars on the open market.
“I think everybody who knows me knew I was going to stay, and knew Patty was going to stay,” Thornton said. ”This is where home is, and this is where I want my family to grow up. This is where I wanted to be.”
Marleau said: “It’s a great place to play. My family loves it here, and I really think that each and every year we have a team that can contend for the Stanley Cup. That’s the main goal.”