Why Sharks' Patrick Marleau Expects Nerves Before SAP Center Return

SAN JOSE -- Sure, even a seasoned veteran like Patrick Marleau had some jitters before he took the ice for his first game back with the Sharks on Thursday night in Chicago.

But that's nothing compared to how he's going to feel on Sunday when he takes the ice at SAP Center.

While meeting with the media on Saturday morning following practice, Marleau admitted that the nerves ahead of his first game back home as a Shark will be on another level.

"I expect it to be a lot the same [nerves as the first game on the road], maybe a little bit more with coming back in front of the fan base," Marleau said. "That adrenaline will be going again and they're going to help me out. Just as long as I keep my legs moving and go to the right spots, hopefully it will be fine."

Those pre-homecoming jitters haven't taken away from how happy the 40-year-old winger is to be playing hockey again. Even with one game back in teal under his belt, the delight of once again being in the fold hasn't worn off.

"The smile hasn't come off my face," he said. "To be able to come back here and walk into this locker room and see my name, it feels good to have somewhere to go and have somewhere to play. And to especially be back here."

It isn't just Marleau's teammates who are happy he's back in a Sharks jersey. No. 12 said he's also heard from former teammates who are happy he's found a home after missing the start of the season.

"The amount of text messages and phone calls I got, it was very humbling and overwhelming," he said. "I really appreciate all of the support that I've been getting. Now the work really starts and I'm really looking forward to it."

Marleau has already had a positive impact on the Sharks ahead of his return to the South Bay, registering two goals in San Jose's 5-4 victory over the Blackhawks. But the team will also be looking to him off the ice as a crop of rookie players gets more acclimated to playing in the NHL.

"Just happy to have another solid pro on the ice and in the room," head coach Peter DeBoer said. "He's going to be a great mentor to our young guys. Just the game he played the other night. How he created offense, he did it the right way."

All that's left now is for Marleau to take the SAP Center ice in his first game back with the Sharks.

[RELATED: Sharks encouraged by effort in win, but issues remain]

Speaking of taking the ice -- Marleau traditionally was the last player to skate out of the sharks' head during his previous tenure with the team, a role that was taken over by Marc-Edouard Vlasic after Marleau left for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Will No. 12 take back the honor of being the last Sharks player out on the ice?

"We had a little talk about it," Marleau said with a laugh. "He let me go out last last game, it was very nice of him."

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