“Heartless, Gutless?” Class-less

May 9

At the heart of his caustic comments about Patrick Marleau’s alleged “gutless” play, Jeremy Roenick was class-less.

A poor choice of words, but possibly a good career move.

Roenick is getting a lot of heat, but he’s getting lots of free publicity that puts him on the radar in a 500-channel universe. I hope that wasn’t his only goal. I’d like to think at some level he really cares about Marleau, and not just his broadcasting career.

Let’s be honest: Roenick expressed the same frustration shared by many Sharks fans for years, especially in the playoffs. The Talented Mr. Marleau has a way of disappearing, i.e., zero points in the series against the Red Wings. But Roenick was killing a fly with a mallet, so his message was lost.

In the emotional world of hockey, Marleau is practically a flat-liner. That serves him well during the long grind of the regular season. On a team with seven players who scored 20 goals or more, he led the way with 37.

It’s the postseason that drives fans, and perhaps the Sharks organization, bat-s*** crazy. At a time when emotions run high, Marleau’s run cold by comparison, and so do his numbers — most of the time. He can be a phantom on skates, and last year the “C” was removed from his jersey.

It’s all about expectations for Marleau, and when he falls short in the postseason, it’s frustrating. Roenick knows Marleau well from his two seasons in San Jose, and I think he’s wondering like many of us when he’ll show up again. In watching the Detroit series, you wouldn’t know he was one of the Sharks’ best players and a Canadian Olympian.

Fair enough, but questioning Marleau’s heart or guts is out of line, self-aggrandizing bombast. It’s fair to assume that everyone who steps on the ice in an NHL playoff game has an ample share of both hearts and guts.

It’s also fair to say that some players have more than others. Marleau’s demeanor leaves the impression that he is in the “less” category.

The subject of Roenick’s ire Sunday was Marleau’s supposed lack of effort along the boards as the Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk picked his pocket and set up the go-ahead goal for Detroit in the third period of Game 5. It’s fair to say he could have battled harder, but Datsyuk has a velcro stick and has demonstrated wizardry with the puck for years.

Marleau has been called out before, by Roenick and others including me, but never this harshly. Marleau had little to say Monday, and really, what can he say … “Yes I do have guts” ?

Tuesday night in Detroit is Marleau’s chance to answer: what say you, Patrick ?

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