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Why Jeremy Roenick wasn’t wrong about his take on Patrick Marleau

May 9, 2011, 12:52 PM EDT

San Jose Sharks v Detroit Red Wings - Game Three Getty Images

Last night during the postgame wrap-up on Game 5 that saw the Detroit Red Wings beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3, Versus’ Jeremy Roenick made sure to let his feelings be known about what he thought of the play of Sharks star forward Patrick Marleau. Marleau has zero points in the series and has a -2 plus/minus rating and Roenick went off on his former teammate calling him, “gutless” and questioning the amount of heart he had in his game.

As you might expect, this opinionated take has upset Sharks fans who once called Roenick their own and it’s also upset some of the media guys surrounding the Sharks as well. CSN Bay Area play-by-play man Randy Hahn was the first to offer his instant take on things via Twitter.

“For Roenick to call Marleau’s performance gutless (twice) and question his heart on national TV is over the line. It was unprofessional.”

Hahn’s broadcast partner Drew Remenda then sounded off on CSN Bay Area’s postgame show taking Roenick to task.

Remenda asking Roenick to “not be a blowhard” saying “you can criticize the play, you can’t criticize the player,” while then being a bit more tactful in breaking down how Marleau wasn’t playing hard enough along the boards and competing for pucks. Former Cup winner Bret Hedican echoed those statements and said that Marleau needs to compete harder saying that he knows he can do it, he just has to do it.

Throwing his two cents in was also CSN Bay Area’s Scott Reiss taking JR to task for what he’s saying as well but also offering up his own take on Marleau’s play.

I’ve covered the Sharks for three seasons now, and in that time they’ve played six playoff series.  In five of those series, Marleau has been a head-scratcher.  One of the league’s most consistent regular-season goal scorers, he not only fails on that end, he fails miserably on the other end.  Defensively speaking, he’s given them next to nothing.  And with all the talk about how Joe Thornton has resurrected his playoff reputation by busting his butt in the defensive zone, his linemate has simply not followed suit.

But none of this justifies Roenick’s reckless remarks in the wake of Game 5.  Calling Marleau “gutless” is wrong on two levels.  First, factually — lack of a willingness to compete does not equate to lack of courage, rather lack of effort. There is a difference.  Second, philosophically — it’s a personal shot levied against a former teammate on national television, which is over the line and flat-out unnecessary.

While everyone’s mad at Roenick for saying things the way he did and doing so without any tact, his message seems to be one that no one is disagreeing with.

Let’s face facts here, for whatever reason it is for Patrick Marleau, he’s not playing as hard as he should and he’s not doing enough of the things that a guy who’s capable of scoring 40 goals a season and helping his country win a gold medal should do. He’s better than what he’s shown against Detroit. We saw it against Los Angeles just in the last round. We saw it last year against the Blackhawks in the playoffs when he was the only guy to show any guts as the Sharks were swept out by the eventual champions.

So the message is apparently spot on, it’s just the delivery method that’s got everyone up in arms. Having it come from a former teammate of Marleau’s should give it more weight to what he’s saying. He’s been through the wars and the battles and he’s seen him at his best and worst. If anything, Roenick’s got a better idea of what he’s seeing out there than some of the guys in the booth. That’s not being critical of guys like Remenda and Hedican, they’ve said just as much as Roenick has just not in such pointed, fiery ways.

All in all, Roenick’s dealing out the hard truth while other analysts are trying to not kick the hometown fans while they’re down and getting nervous. Hey, it makes sense after all since Roenick is on a bigger stage and has to bring it a bit harder than the hometown guys do. Getting upset at the guy for not punching Marleau with kid gloves is pretty silly.

We want our analysts to not be boring guys but the second they light a guy up fans get indignant. You can’t have it both ways and being a fan of chaos the way I am, I’m glad to have Roenick there to spit his version of truth out there. Whether you like it or not is a matter of personal tastes, but a harsh take can certainly get people talking a lot more than a cotton-soft PR-friendly take.

  1. beerleaguefitness - May 9, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    I love it when someone tries to say that an ex-teammate of a guy shouldn’t criticize a player when they get a media job.

    NEWSFLASH: Former players get paid to critique guys. Not just those guys that they didn’t have as teammates.

    If someone wants to say Roenick is wrong to say that Marleau’s hasn’t played a gutless or heartless game, then that’s one thing. But if the big argument is that it was “too personal” a take, I’m sorry.

    And I love the “Marleau has lacked effort and not heart” angle.

    It’s a thin line between lazy and gutless in the playoffs.

  2. dreadpiratesteve - May 9, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Marleau is a joke. Said it for years and will continue to say it. Sharks should have let him walk and saved the cap space. This team is right on the cusp of greatness and a supposedly key component is simply not showing up night in and night out. He’s not even showing up every other game.

    Sharks fans: Open your eyes! This guy is completely overrated by our own franchise.

    • wonder38 - May 9, 2011 at 5:28 PM

      For a has been that has never won a stanley cup and has never won a gold medal and rumored to have trashed a locker room after an Olympic game and has admitted to playing after an all day
      drinking binge is just what he is, big mouth… Let him tell any player and that includes Marleau tohis face that he is gutless, then we’ll know who is gutless.

      • dreadpiratesteve - May 9, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        The point of the article is not to condone the way Roenick went about calling out another player(which I agree was excessive) but to, in fact, call out a player who is playing like a little girl right now.
        I don’t agree with JR’s methods but I do agree with his message. Marleau is not a championship caliber player. Pure and simple.

  3. lsxphotog - May 9, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Talking about hockey has always been a weird subject for me because I have played my entire life and my father was a coach. When JR said that, I agreed and didn’t think anything further. Hell, it’s almost word for word what any coach would say. I’m sure JR said it to light a fire under him because he’s thinking in hockey mode. That’s the kind of critique that plays in your mind as you get out on the ice and show ’em how it’s done. Still, in the public eye, JR should exhibit better censorship so as not to upset the masses. haha

  4. sanjosecupcrazy - May 9, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    As a Sharks fan, have tried to remain rational every time our fan base heads to the bridges and gets ready to jump….

    ….but Roenick was dead-on last night. Marleau has been with this team since 1998. There’s a deep history here. At some point, someone has to call a spade a spade. Marleau — is a SPADE.

    • dreadpiratesteve - May 9, 2011 at 10:05 PM

      My thoughts exactly cupcrazy. Because the Sharks often disappoint when the going gets tough and the games really matter it is easy for both their fans and the media to overreact and unfairly villify a player. But this is not a case of that. The sample size is too great and failures too frequent from Marleau at this point. What you see is what you get and when the games get bigger, Patty Marleau gets much, much smaller.

  5. baronsfan - May 9, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    yeah J.R, only thing more gutless than marleau was you and your cohorts(tkachuk,weight) trashing the hotel room in nagano and then chelios took the heat for you! now that was gutlesssss!

  6. notdoncherry - May 10, 2011 at 3:17 AM

    Wow ! Roenick is trying to be Don Cherry. He will never have that much CLASS! The past and the present has shown that .

  7. hockeybiasdotcom - May 10, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    I agree with the gist of Roenick’s comment, but there is nothing wrong with being a bit more tactful than he was.

    It won’t be easy (as has been the case with most so many of this year’s playoff games), but I won’t be surprised if the banged-up Wings find a way, somehow, to take this to game 7. Playing at home, with momentum, will be a big plus. Having said that, the Sharks will not go down easily and I can’t help but think that, at least in a minor way, the Roenick comments regarding Marleau could rally the Sharks.

    …I am not sure if Thornton has a history of diving, this amateur hour dive makes me think he is new to the tactic;–video.html , but if it is a sign of nervous desperation then that is another variable in favor of the Wings. Should be fun!

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