SAN JOSE—Since the NHL free agency market opened on Saturday, July 1, 2017, the San Jose Sharks have made the following changes to their roster:
Forward Patrick Marleau, (basically) a Sharks legend, has departed for Toronto; 12 season veteran Joe Thornton will remain in San Jose another year; Brandon Bollig, who spent last season with the Stockton Heat of the AHL, closed a one year deal with the team on Tuesday, July 4, 2017; and Sharks alum Rob Zettler will become the team’s Assistant Coach, replacing Bob Boughner who became the Florida Panthers’ Head Coach last month.
The six-foot-two, 215-pound Marleau, 37, agreed to a three year, $18.75 million contract with the Maple Leafs on Sunday, July 2, 2017. He was considered to be one of the top free agents on the market and, in addition to Toronto and San Jose, he was reportedly also sought out by the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars.
“I think I’ve worn out a few carpets pacing around the house trying to make this decision over the last couple of days,” Marleau, who is ranked first in Sharks franchise history in goals, games, and points, said in a statement. His final decision was contingent upon the fact that in nearly two decades, he had not won a Stanley Cup. He stated that, with the success of Maple Leafs rookies (including last season’s 40 goal-scorer Auston Matthews), he has a hunch that the team is en route to becoming a Cup contender.
“It was extremely difficult. The organization has been first class to me over the 19 years I’ve been here. … My wife and four boys, it was extremely tough to finally pull the trigger and have them to move to a new country, one coast to the other, but everybody here in our house is extremely excited to be a part of the Maple Leafs and where they’re going. I’m ecstatic to be a part of that,” Marleau shared.
The Aneroid, Saskatchewan native, said to be one of the NHL’s fastest skaters, is departing San Jose with 19 seasons under his belt. At age 17, he was first selected by the Sharks at the 1997 NHL Draft as the second overall pick (first round). With 1,493 NHL career games, he was seven shy of hitting his 1,500th game all with one team; only six players in NHL history have exceeded his number of games played. Additionally, Marleau has not missed a game with the Sharks since April 2009, which adds up to 622 consecutive games.
Marleau has scored a total of 508 goals (he scored his 500th career goal on February 2, 2017 against the Vancouver Canucks) and posted 574 assists, totaling 1,082 points. Additionally, he holds 459 penalty minutes and 160 power play goals. The left wing and center has made 177 playoff appearances and tallied 120 points (68 goals and 52 assists), 75 penalty minutes, and 23 power play goals.
“Patrick has been a pillar of this franchise since he was drafted as a 17-year-old in 1997, and has become one of the elite players in our team’s history. He owns nearly every offensive record in Sharks history, scored some big goals for our team and helped shape San Jose into a true hockey city. While we were hoping he would choose to return to San Jose, we wish him the absolute best and want to thank Patrick, his wife Christina, and their children Landon, Brody, Jagger and Caleb for their time in San Jose, a place he has called home for nearly two decades,” General Manager Doug Wilson disclosed in a statement.
Thornton, the Sharks’ alternate captain, closed a deal with San Jose that will run through 2018-19. Originally selected as the first overall pick by the Boston Bruins in 1997, the London, Ontario native, who stands at six feet four inches and weighs 220 pounds, commenced his career with San Jose in 2005.
This past season, Thornton totaled 50 points (seven goals and 43 assists) along with a plus-seven rating in 79 games. He ranked 2nd on the Sharks in assists and amongst forwards in average time on ice per game at 18 minutes and three seconds, 3rd in power-play points with 19, and 4th in points faceoff percentage at 50.9%.
He became just the second player in Sharks history to record 900 points with Team Teal (Patrick Marleau was the first), recording his 900th point on November 21, 2016 against the New Jersey Devils. Thornton appeared in his 1,400th NHL game on December 20, 2016 against the Calgary Flames. Fighting through knee injuries, Thornton added two assists in four playoff games.
On March 6, 2017 against the Winnipeg Jets, Thornton attained his 1,000th career assist in his 900th game with the Sharks, the 13th player in NHL history to reach this peak. In doing so, Thornton joined the 1,000 assist club alongside NHL Hall of Fame inductees (minus Jaromir Jagir) Wayne Gretzky (1,963), Ron Francis (1,249), Mark Messier (1,193), Ray Bourque (1,169), Jaromir Jagr (1,149), Paul Coffey (1,135), Adam Oates (1,079), Steve Yzerman (1,063), Gordie Howe (1,049), Marcel Dionne (1,040), Mario Lemieux (1,033), and Joe Sakic (1,016). Of these 13 players, Thornton reached this milestone in the sixth fewest games (1,432).
In 1,446 career games, Thornton holds 1,391 points (384 goals and 1,007 assists) and a plus-206 rating. Amongst all NHL players since the 1997-98 season (Thornton’s debut with Boston), he ranks first in both assists and points. Of current NHL players, he ranks second only to Jagr in career NHL points and assists. In 160 career playoff games, Thornton has posted 27 goals and 96 assists.
Acquired by San Jose from Boston on Nov. 30, 2005, Thornton has 722 assists and 937 points in 914 games with the Sharks. During that span, no NHL player has more assists than Thornton and his 928 points with San Jose ranks 3rd amongst all NHL players since the trade.
On San Jose’s franchise list, Thornton nearly tops statistical categories. He is first in assists, points per game with 1.03, and plus-minus (plus-181). He ranks second in points with 937 and games played with 914, and third in goals with 215.
With 92 helpers in 2006-07, Thornton became the third player in NHL history to have back-to-back 90-plus assist seasons (he collected 96 in the previous season). He joins Gretzky and Lemieux.
Thornton exceeded the NHL in assists for three consecutive seasons: he posted 96 helpers in 2005-06, 92 in 2006-07, and 67 in 2007-08, fourth player in NHL history to do so. With these achievements, Thornton joins Gretzky, Bobby Orr, and Stan Makita, and Henrik Sedin (as of 2011-12).
In his first season with the Sharks, Thornton was awarded both the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy in 2006. He has qualified for six NHL All-Star Games (in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2009), and, additionally was named an NHL First All-Star Team in 2006, and an NHL Second All-Star Team in 2003, 2008 and 2016. Thornton has represented his home country by winning gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics (also in 2006), both the 2004 and 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and the 1997 World Junior Championships.
“Joe has become one of the faces of this franchise since his arrival in 2005 and we feel it’s only fitting that he will be wearing teal going forward. He is a generational playmaker and his accomplishments place him amongst the elite players to ever play the game. He has helped lead this team to new levels and continues to be one of the top two-way centers in the League. His leadership on and off the ice have been instrumental in this franchise’s success, and we’re excited that he has continued his commitment to this organization and the fans in San Jose,” Wilson said of the London, Ontario-born center.
30 year-old Bollig signed a one year deal with San Jose on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. He hails from St. Charles, Missouri, stands at six feet three inches and weighs 225 pounds.
Never drafted, the left winger made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011-12 while also playing for their affiliate, the Rockford Icehogs. He was to the Calgary Flames at the start of the 2014-15 season, with whom he spent two years. Most recently, he played for the Stockton Heat (AHL), affiliate of the Flames.
Last season, Bollig picked up 22 points (11 goals and 11 assists) in 60 games played with Stockton. He also posted 80 shots on goal and 136 penalty minutes. In five playoff games, Bollig registered one goal, two penalty minutes, and six shots. In 206 career AHL games with the Heat and IceHogs, Bollig holds 46 points (24 goals and 22 assists), 247 shots on goal, and 578 penalty minutes.
In 241 total NHL games, Bollig has 23 points (10 goals and 13 assists), 392 penalty minutes, and 527 hits with both Calgary and Chicago. He won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013.
“Bollig is a competitive player who will add a tough edge to the Sharks. He brings with him a lot of playoff experience and a Stanley Cup Championship. His grit and physicality will be a great addition to our team,” Wilson said in a statement.
Zettler, 49, an “original Shark” who was selected during the Dispersal Draft (expansion) in 1991, served as San Jose’s Assistant Coach under then Head Coach Ron Wilson from 2002 to 2008. During this stint, the Sharks cultivated a 206-134-45 record and a .535 winning percentage. Additionally, they won two Pacific Division Championships in 2004 and 2008, and they advanced the Western Conference Final in 2004.
Zettler left San Jose in 2008 to serve as Toronto’s Assistant Coach, where he would again serve under Wilson and remain with the team until 2012. In July of that year, he was hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning and appointed as the Assistant Coach of their AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. He was named their Head Coach in March 2013, replacing Jon Cooper who became the Head Coach of the Lightning. As the Crunch’s Head Coach, he led the team to a 108-90-41 record.
The Sept-Îles, Quebec native commenced his professional career with the Minnesota North Stars (who selected him 55th overall in the 1986 NHL Draft) in 1988. When he was traded to San Jose, he was one of the first two players in the team’s history. From 1991-1994, Zettler appeared in 196 games with the Sharks, posting 19 points (one goal and 18 assists). In 569 career games with Minnesota, San Jose, the Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto, Nashville Predators, and the Washington Capitals, Zettler holds 70 points (five goals and 65 assists).
The following members of San Jose’s coaching staff spoke about Zettler:
Peter DeBoer (Head Coach): Rob has extensive experience working as a coach at the NHL level and developing prospects as a head coach in the AHL. As we researched candidates during this process, reputable people that I spoke with kept coming back to me with the same words: communicator, teacher, and professional. We think he will be a tremendous asset to our staff.
Doug Wilson (General Manager): My relationship with Rob goes back to the Sharks first season in 1991, when he was one of our standout young players, and of course, as one of our assistant coaches during some very successful years for our franchise. His familiarity with our organization, many of our players and our area cannot be overstated. He and his family have made their permanent home in San Jose and we’re thrilled to welcome Rob back to the Sharks organization.
Additionally, Zettler contended, “It is both an exciting challenge and a privilege to come back to an organization that I have so much passion for, and I am happy to get my family back home to San Jose. I want to thank Pete, Doug and his staff for their time during the hiring process and for this opportunity. Ultimately, I want to win, and I look forward to working together and building on the success this staff has had.”