Leafs Mar­leau re­turn­ing to San Jose for first time as an op­pos­ing player

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL SPORTS - By Dhiren Mahiban THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Pa­trick Mar­leau is head­ing back to San Jose, this time as a mem­ber of an op­pos­ing team. The Maple Leafs open a four-game, seven-day road trip through Cal­i­for­nia on Mon­day against the Sharks, the team Mar­leau spent 19 years with be­fore sign­ing with Toronto as a free agent this off­sea­son.

But Mar­leau isn't putting too much em­pha­sis on the emo­tions sur­round­ing his home­com­ing.

:Just go there and try and fo­cus on play­ing. I think that's the most im­por­tant thing,: Mar­leau said after Toronto's 4-2 loss to the Philadel­phia Fly­ers on Satur­day night.

:It'll be good to get it done with. Look­ing for­ward to get­ting things back on track for us and get­ting the win.:

The Sharks chose Mar­leau sec­ond over­all at the 1997 draft. The Aneroid, Sask., na­tive played in 1,493 reg­u­lar-sea­son games with San Jose and is the fran­chise's all-time leader in goals (508) and points (1,082).

The 38-year-old Mar­leau joined the Leafs in July, sign­ing a three-year U.S. $18.75 mil­lion con­tract.

Told by a re­porter that San Jose would likely hon­our him with a video trib­ute, Mar­leau joked he's not pre­pared for that.

:There's go­ing to be a lot of emo­tions go­ing back there and see­ing some fa­mil­iar faces on the op­po­site side,: he said. :It's all new to me.:

The Leafs have dropped three of their last four games, with back-to-back losses for the first time this sea­son fol­low­ing Satur­day's de­feat against the Fly­ers.

Toronto's of­fence, which was gen­er­at­ing 4.9 goals per game through the first seven con­tests, has been held to 2.5 goals per game in their last four and their de­fen­sive woes con­tinue to be an is­sue as Toronto's goals-against (40) ranks 26th over­all.

Bab­cock said he'd use the cross-con­ti­nent flight to re­view game tape and make de­ci­sions on lineup changes.

Mar­leau's team­mates are aware of the sig­nif­i­cance of west coast trip, which in­cludes games against the Ana­heim Ducks and L.A. Kings on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day be­fore wrap­ping up in St. Louis.

:(The Sharks) are al­ways tough to play against,: said Aus­ton Matthews. :Ob­vi­ously with Patty go­ing home there it's def­i­nitely a game we want to win for him. They all present a pretty tough chal­lenge _ all three (Cal­i­for­nia) teams _ so we've got to make sure we're ready.:

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