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.