Patrick Marleau stands alone in the NHL record book.
Marleau played his 1,768th career contest on Monday night as his San Jose Sharks took on the Vegas Golden Knights, passing Gordie Howe for the NHL's all-time games played mark.
The 41-year-old was honored with a video tribute from the NHL before the game and received a standing ovation from players and fans.
Marleau, who was held pointless over 17:21 of ice time in San Jose's 3-2 shootout loss, got emotional after the contest when discussing his love for the game and the adulation he received from his peers.
“You go battle with these guys day in and day out, you play against them, and they know the grind and know what it takes to play in this league,” Marleau said. “For them to show their respects and have all these kind words, it’s very humbling.”
Selected second overall in the 1997 NHL Draft by the Sharks — one pick behind eventual long-time teammate Joe Thornton — after posting 125 points with the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds, Marleau immediately cracked the Sharks roster out of major junior, recording 13 goals and 32 points during his rookie year in 1997-98, and never looked back.
Marleau holds almost every significant Sharks franchise record, and served as the team's captain from 2004-2009. He also earned three All-Star selections and helped Canada win gold at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. At the end of the 2016-17 season, Marleau entered free agency and signed a highly-publicized three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs with an average annual value of $6.25 million per year. The veteran forward was widely credited with helping Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner's transition into the NHL during their rookie and sophomore seasons, before eventually returning to the Sharks for his second of three stints in October 2019.
The 41-year-old currently holds the fourth-longest consecutive games played streak, beginning on April 9, 2009. Sharks teammate Mario Ferraro had yet to turn 11 years old when Marleau last missed a schedule game, for some perspective.
It's an incredible honour for one of the league's all-time ironmen, and could certainly enhance his Hall of Fame chances when he's eventually on the ballot.
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