The much anticipated Toronto return for fan favourite, team ‘dad’ and NHL legend Patrick Marleau is going down tonight, but the 40-year-old started trending online long before he hits the ice at Scotiabank Arena.
And Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock has something to do with it.
Following Toronto’s pre-game skate on Friday morning, Babcock praised the veteran’s leadership and impact on the team during his two short seasons north of the border, adding that Marleau was on the hunt to break Gordie Howe’s NHL all-time games played record of 1,767.
Marleau is only 105 games away from taking the top spot, which would undoubtedly be an incredible accomplishment, but it’s not exactly his main goal. Patrick made a rare social media cameo on his wife Christina’s Twitter account ahead of Friday night’s game to clarify the Babcock’s comment earlier in the day.
Quick comment regarding Babcock’s statement: I don’t think anyone can set out to break a games played record. There are so many things that can happen, and that is not my goal. My one and only goal is to win a Cup. That’s it. Anything else is just gravy. -PM— Christina Marleau (@c_marleau) October 25, 2019
Marleau has always had of team-first mentality, and it’s one of many factors that make him a respected leader and teammate across the league. His tenure in Toronto will likely be celebrated with a quick tribute video, and a standing ovation from the fans as Scotiabank Arena is likely to follow. But nothing can top the “welcome home” video from the Sharks when Marleau returned to the team on this October. (Disclaimer: Grab tissues)
If you’re still thinking about records, Marleau is currently on an iron-man streak of 789 consecutive played games, only 175 away from the all-time lead held by Doug Jarvis. If you’re writing the perfect storyline this is how it goes: Marleau breaks both the iron-man streak and the all-time games played record while winning his first Stanley Cup! He’s the type of guy you root for regardless of where your own team allegiance lies.
Marleau already has a lengthy list of accolades on his trophy shelf regardless of how the rest of his career pans out, including San Jose’s all-time leader in goals, points, games played, and the youngest player in NHL history to reach the 1,000, 1300, and 1400, game played marks.
It’ll be a fun and emotional night in Toronto.
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