The Toronto Maple Leafs and their signing of Patrick Marleau during the offseason was one of the major changes in the NHL. Marleau had been a member of the San Jose Sharks since the late 1990s, and, although he has a Western Conference championship from his time there, Marleau, who does have two Olympic gold medals, never won a Stanley Cup during all his years in San Jose. In fact, there was a big stretch of Marleau's career where the San Jose Sharks were deemed underachievers and playoff chokers. He spoke about that recently after practicing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Marleau interviewed recently

In an interview that Sportsnet published to their YouTube account, an unnamed reporter asked Marleau about winning the Stanley Cup.

He answered: "I haven't won a Cup so I'm still looking for it. I'd love to do it...with these guys right here." While Leafs fans are optimistic about the upcoming season, in part because of the acquisition of Marleau, the Leafs are not generally considered contenders for the Stanley Cup.

Betting odds are the best reflection of general opinion and the Leafs are not considered anything but middle-of-the-pack contenders. For instance, 888Sport sportsbook makes the Leafs 12th favorites for the Cup at +2000 (ie. 20 to 1). There are slightly more optimistic odds with other sportsbooks but bet365's odds on the Leafs, +1400, are among the shortest. Whether the general opinions are right or wrong is a matter that will be settled on the ice. Certainly, the odds aren't always right, but they do provide food for thought and insight into what non-partisan fans think.

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On that matter, the signing of Marleau hasn't actually been applauded in a lot of NHL commentary.

Signing Marleau not considered key by some

Shortly after Marleau was signed, for example, TSN's Scott Cullen offered his verdict on the deal: "Adding Marleau does make the Maple Leafs better, but it’s really difficult to foresee his production from ages 38 to 40 being enough to justify the terms of this contract...there is a fair chance that the return does not match the investment" (July 2nd). The point of view has to do with the money-for-stats perspective on contracts. There's also a money-for-name perspective, one where a team signs a player who has considerable fame in hockey and might help put butts into seats. Marleau signed on at $6.25M per season for the next three seasons. That contract came after last season in San Jose where his production dipped.