Sharks coach says playoff letdowns will motivate Thornton, Marleau

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Sharks coach Todd McLellan isn’t worried that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau will lose their motivation now that they’ve signed three-year contract extensions, which will guarantee the pair of 34-year-old forwards a healthy paycheck through the 2016-17 season.

“They haven’t won a Stanley Cup. They haven’t been in the finals,” McLellan said today, per CSN Bay Area. “If that’s not motivating enough… I look at some of the guys like Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk, and, in my own experience, Dallas Drake, that played for a number of years. The hunger grows as you get older because your opportunity for success is shorter”

That lack of playoff success remains the big knock on both players. Marleau was drafted by the Sharks in 1997; Thornton was traded to San Jose during the 2005-06 season. Together, they’ve been to the Western Conference finals twice, falling to Chicago and Vancouver in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

It won’t be easy to get out of the West this year either. In fact, this may be the toughest test yet for San Jose. If the playoffs started today, the Sharks would face the Kings in the first round. Beat L.A. and they could easily get the Ducks next. Beat Anaheim and it could be the Blackhawks or Blues after that.