San Jose couldn't ask for more than 71 points last season from its team captain, as Patrick Marleau lead the charge into the post-season. When the Sharks reached the first round and fell apart, however, most pointed the finger at Marleau's lack of leadership for the early exit from the playoffs.
The start of this season was suppose to be the continuation of Marleau's resurrected play achieved the season before. This season started, however, with the distractions of Olympic camp, the addition of Danny Heatley, and the removal of a letter from the front of the former captain's jersey.
Coach Todd McLellan decided that after the first round exit from the playoffs to cross state rival Anaheim the team must go in a new direction to be successful. The major change was promoting the player who would show the most leadership and ability in camp to captain, Defense-man Rob Blake.
The results thus far have been better than anyone in the Shark's front office could have possible asked for. Marleau no longer has captaincy and moreover does not carry the burden of the letter. He has become free to focus on the task at hand, scoring points and winning games.
Through play on Thursday San Jose has a league leading 29 points, Marleau is tied for third in the league with 23 points, and new addition Dan Heatley has produced 12 goals.
Coming off of what was said to be his year of rejuvenation, Marleau has become a scoring machine. Expect the points to continue flowing from his stick and San Jose to gain some room at the top of the standings.
The unburdened beginning of Patty's season is just the start of great things to come.