The Marleaus were at home in San Jose, where Patrick played for the San Jose Sharks from 1997 to 2017 and again this season before switching to the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 24.
Two of their sons were in the room. Two no.
The funny part was that two others who might as well be their sons were on the screen during an NHL video call.
There were Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Mitchell marner and Auston Matthews, Marner in his hometown of Toronto, Matthews in his hometown of Phoenix, each wearing a baseball cap back.
Marner’s phone continued to ring at one point.
“Sorry, Pat,” said Marner.
With the NHL season halted on March 12 due to concerns over the coronavirus, it was an opportunity for them to catch up, to remember how they got close in the first place and to share some laughs.
[RELATED:[RELATED:[ENRELATION:[RELATED:Marleau, Matthews and Marner bonded in two seasons with the Maple Leafs]
Marleau signed with the Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent on July 2, 2017. At the start of the 2017-18 season, he was 38 years old. Marner and Matthews were each 20 years old.
At first, Marleau kept it to himself. He had never joined a new team before in the NHL and wanted to enter the locker room.
“He was pretty calm the first two weeks,” said Matthews. “He hardly spoke to me at all. He was avoiding me. “
Marleau said he loved Marner and Matthews. According to his recollection, he broke into their hotel room on the first trip by car and suggested that they go out.
Matthews remembered going to dinner, going back to the bedroom and finding Marleau with Marner.
“You were in Mitch’s bed …” said Matthews, laughing.
“Yeah,” said Marner.
“… with Mitch and waiting, and we were going to watch, like, a movie,” continued Matthews.
The film? Well, it was a Disney movie, of course. “Cars 3.”
“It was kind of like a tradition,” said Matthews. “Each road trip, we put on a movie and order a dessert. “
Like father and son.
The first time the Marleaus invited Marner and Matthews to dinner at their home, their biological sons played mini sticks with their adopted sons. Each time thereafter, Marner and Matthews brought additional shorts and T-shirts.
“We knew we were going to sweat the mini sticks for hours on end,” said Marner. “I think that sort of is really where the relationship started, it was when we started going out there and hanging out with all the kids, just the feeling that we were really part of the family. “
Matthews said the relationship has evolved rapidly over the two seasons from Marleau to Toronto.
“Obviously, the boys are fun spending time with them,” said Matthews. “I think they enjoyed spending time with us. We have always had a good time. The mini sticks have become intense. “
Apple watches have kept the game going, in a sense.
“It’s intermission when something breaks,” said Marleau.
On the call Monday, the family played a version of “The Newlywed Game,” in which they answered questions about each other. It was obvious that they knew each other well and enjoyed spending time together.
Most likely to watch the Love Is Blind TV series? Matthews.
No longer able to live pizza alone? Marner.
Perhaps the most significant nugget was a rule that Marleau, Marner and Matthews had when they went out to dinner.
“You couldn’t touch your phone,” said Marner. “If you touched your phone, you had to pay the bill. It was more so that we could somehow enjoy each other’s presence more, I just think of talking about other things, other than just being on our phone while watching on Twitter, Instagram or by SMS. It was a fun way to be more interactive with each other. “
The exception was for Marleau to answer calls from his family.
Being present with family and friends is very important, especially at times like these. We need to practice social distance to stop the spread of the virus, but no matter how close we are, we don’t need to be far away. We must not be far apart. When they’re together, we need to put our phones away. Now that we are separated, we need to remove them and reconnect them.
“I think it was really good to have [Marleau] on and off the ice and just having someone to have good conversations with and just a [sounding board] on different things about life and hockey, “said Matthews.
Matthews and Marner, 22, each stay in touch with Marleau, 40.
“I know if I ever need something or want to bounce something off someone, he’s a guy who has obviously gone through a lot,” said Matthews. “I know he is a close friend of mine and he will always give me honest feedback and his opinion. “
It’s bigger than hockey.