Patrick Marleau is a legend in the Bay Area.
The Maple Leafs forward returned to San Jose on Monday for his first game against his former team after signing a deal with Toronto in July. Marleau was drafted No. 2 overall to the Sharks in the 1997 Entry Draft and spent the better part of 19 seasons in the teal and black.
Prior to the contest, he received a thunderous ovation that lasted several minutes while he took the time to graciously salute the crowd with his stick while clapping his hands. He became emotional as the fans in the city he called home for two decades showed their affection for the Sharks’ all-time goals and points leader.
The love from the home crowd actually started raining down well before the ceremony kicked off. The former Sharks captain was the last Leafs player to step on the ice for warmup and was subsequently given a loud ovation from the early arrivers at SAP Center.
A high vantage point, but you’ll know when Marleau skates out onto the ice pic.twitter.com/dGKEGKmVtf
— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) October 31, 2017
Instead of a mid-game or post-anthem ceremony to honour returning players — usually including a short video tribute and a moment for the player to acknowledge the fans’ love — Marleau was given his tribute before the anthems began to allow the fans, and Marleau himself, to really grasp the emotional moment.
Marleau, who made his debut just two weeks after Auston Matthews was born, has played by far the most games for the Sharks in the history of the franchise. His 1,493 games with the same team are seventh-most in NHL history, and he currently ranks No. 1 on the Sharks’ all-time lists for points (1082), goals (508), power-play tallies (160) and shorties (17).
12 is a popular number tonight. pic.twitter.com/7C3B4AZ9HV