Sitting only 44 career games behind Gordie Howe, Sharks forward Patrick Marleau has the opportunity to break the record for career games played.
This opportunity comes to the surprise of no one. The veteran has played a total of 22 seasons and counting. 20 of those seasons have been in a teal uniform, lighting up the Shark Tank in the process.
The Saskatchewan native shined well before entering the NHL, serving as one of the best players in the Western Hockey League history. With the Seattle Thunderbirds in 1997, he had a phenomenal 125 points in 71 games.
Subsequently, he was taken second overall in the 1997 NHL entry draft, just one pick behind Joe Thornton.
Since entering the league, Patrick Marleau has already made his mark both in Sharks and league history. In San Jose, he holds the record for games played, points, and goals. In the NHL, he is fifth all-time in games played and 25th all-time in goals scored at 562.
His impact is just as impressive in the playoffs, playing in 195 post-season games and accounting for 72 goals and 55 points.
Over the years, fans have built an emotional attachment to the 41-year old veteran. Last season, he made his return to the Bay Area after two seasons in Toronto.
In his first game back, he surprised fans with two goals, and the fans screamed his name throughout the game. His visible joy to be back in San Jose hit NHL fans everywhere; on the bench, tears of happiness flooded down his face.
He has shined in the big moments throughout his career, whether it be in the playoffs or the regular season.
During the 2010 NHL conference semi-finals versus the then-defending champion Detroit Red Wings, he came up big. He struck a staggering overtime game-winning goal in the third game of the series. The Sharks subsequently eliminated the red and white in five games. The 2010 post-season was the second Western Conference Final appearance in franchise history.
However, this was not the only time Marleau came up clutch in the post-season. Three years later, he hit another over-time game-winning dagger. This time it was against the Canucks in the first round, and the goal ended the series in a sweep.
Flashing forward to 2015, he logged his 1000th point, joining a club of fewer than 100 players in the NHL’s 100+ year history.
His elite goal-scoring ability continued to shine even later in his career. On January 23rd, 2017, while playing the Colorado Avalanche, he scored four goals in just one period. He was the 12th all-time to do so and was the first to achieve the feat in the 21st century.
Only 10-days after putting on a show in Denver, he broke yet another record, becoming the 45th player in NHL history to join the 500-goal club.
Marleau’s career is chocked full of big moments and record-setting history. The Sharks are fortunate to have their history closely tied with such a special player.
Between his talent and his loyalty, with 20 straight years in San Jose and two stints since his departure. The only thing to cap off his career would be a Stanley Cup, either with the Sharks or another team.