How Does Patrick Marleau Really Feel About His Slump?

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Patrick Marleau  of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after he scored a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks at HP Pavilion on November 24, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

I didn’t realize just how cold San Jose’s Patrick Marleau had gone.

He has just 3 points in his last 10 games and is -16 on the season.

Both the Sharks and Marleau insist there are no injury issues.

In an attempt to get Marleau going, he’s been moved off of San Jose’s top Joe Thornton-Dany Heatley line, but so far, that hasn’t really helped things for Marleau.

One question is if the Sharks feel this is a correctable slump. Coach Todd McLellan gave the San Jose Mercury News an interesting quote:

“[Marleau’s -16] shows he’s not playing up to his capability,” McLellan said before pointing out the flaws in [the +/-] stat that can ding a player even if he didn’t contribute to the opponent’s goal. “There were a number of them where he could have been in the parking lot and he wouldn’t have been able to affect the play.”

On first read, it seems like McLellan is defending Marleau. But upon further analysis, is it possible he’s saying that Marleau hasn’t been impacting the on-ice game? Is McLellan subconsciously expressing the thought that Marleau might as well wait games out in the parking lot?

Obviously, without my having McLellan run through some Rorschach tests, I can’t precisely get to what he might be thinking, but it certainly is a curious turn-of-phrase.

Finally, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Marleau signed a four-year contract extension this summer. Was that enough to make him complacent this season? That summer contract was most likely the last one of his NHL career. Is comfort what caused Marleau to falter after a strong start to this season?

Or, as Freud might have said, is a slump sometimes just a slump?