Patrick Marleau overtakes Gordie Howe, is No. 1 in games played in the NHL
Patrick Marleau is alone.
At 7:08 p.m. when the puck dropped to start Monday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and host of the Vegas Golden Knights, game-starting Marleau secured his place in the history of the game. NHL in his 1768th regular season game to overtake Gordie. Howe and become the all-time leader of the league in the matches played.
What was once considered an unbreakable record that Howe had owned for nearly 60 years now belongs to Marleau, who was drafted by the Sharks in 1997 and would become the face of the organization.
“On behalf of all of your fans and friends and all of the NHL family, congratulations on this incredible achievement,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a video statement that was released during the first stoppage of play. “Just being mentioned in the same sentence as Gordie Howe is an achievement that most hockey players can only dream of.
“Breaking one of his records is historic.”
T-Mobile Arena fans, including some Sharks fans, gave Marleau a standing ovation. Members of the Golden Knights also showed their appreciation for Marleau’s accomplishment.
Marleau took off the No. 12 jersey he wore at the start of the game and was suspended behind the Sharks bench, to be sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
The reaction on social media has poured in from all over the NHL.
Toronto Maple Leafs captain and former Marleau teammate John Tavares tweeted, “It’s amazing to see you surpass Gordie’s all-time game record. There is no one more dedicated, humble or deserving. I feel extremely lucky to have been your teammate. Congratulations, Patty! ”
“I was there for Patty’s first game and now I’m witnessing history,” former Sharks forward Owen Nolan tweeted. “An incredible achievement. Congratulations buddy. ”
Marleau’s wife Christina, their four boys and members of her extended family were all in attendance on Monday, watching the game from a luxury suite.
A special moment for Patrick Marleau in Vegas.
– San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) April 20, 2021
Earlier Monday, Marleau lost nearly 24 years of stoicism and became moved as he thanked those who helped him throughout his historic career.
“I’m always stifled and moved when it comes to people contacting and talking to people about how long it’s been, how far I’ve come, or how many games I’ve played,” Marleau said. “You don’t get this far without help and support. I am very grateful for all of this.
Marleau has now played 1,596 games in 21 seasons with the Sharks, the team that drafted him second in 1997. Marleau also played 164 games from 2017 to 2019 with the Toronto Maple Leafs and eight regular season games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2020.
With the game played record in hand, Marleau adds to an already impressive resume that should justify a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame after his retirement, even without a Stanley Cup under his belt.
Marleau entered Monday’s game with 566 goals and 1,196 points in 23 career NHL seasons, scoring at least 20 goals in a season 15 times. He played three NHL All-Star games and won gold medals with Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Marleau also played 899 straight games, an ironman streak that began on April 9, 2009.
“It’s more than just a personal step,” Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said ahead of the game. “It’s a statement to every player who has played this game at any time.”
Marleau said Howe’s family members congratulated him on setting this new standard in the NHL.
Howe played 1,767 regular season games in 26 seasons in the NHL, including his first 25 as a member of the Detroit Red Wings from 1946 to 1971. He led the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup four times, winning the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy six times each as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer, respectively.
Howe’s last season in the NHL was in 1979-80 with the Hartford Whalers, when he ended his career with 1,850 points, a record that stood for nearly a decade before Wayne Gretzky surpassed that. mark in 1989. Howe died in 2016.
Mark Howe, one of Gordie’s sons, sent Marleau a congratulatory text on Sunday.
“I got his message yesterday and it meant the world to me,” Marleau said. who also received congratulatory messages from Gretzky and many former teammates. “Then we exchanged messages, but the message he left me was… I’m very grateful.”
Marleau and Gordie Howe both have the same Canadian prairie background, hailing from rural towns in the sometimes very cold province of Saskatchewan.
Howe grew up in a town called Floral, which is just outside of Saskatoon in the central part of the province. Marleau is from Aneroid, which has a population of less than 100 and is in the southwest corner.
“It’s something I’m pretty proud of, being from Saskatchewan and Gordie being from Saskatchewan, I think that’s a pretty cool connection,” said Marleau, whose NHL debut was on October 1, 1997.
“That was part of the message Mark gave me yesterday, was that it was pretty fitting that I was from Saskatchewan and that was where Gordie was from, and that he would be very proud to have. broke the record tonight (was) a farm boy from a small town in Saskatchewan.
With Marleau just 44 games short of Howe’s all-time record, the Sharks signed him in October on a one-year contract. General manager Doug Wilson said at the time that if Marleau was going to break that record, it would have to happen with San Jose.
This season, Marleau passed Ron Francis (1,731 games), Jaromir Jagr (1,733) and Mark Messier (1756) before leveling Howe on Saturday when the Sharks faced the Minnesota Wild.
“That’s why we’re so proud of him doing it in the Sharks uniform,” Wilson said recently. “That’s why we wanted it to be like this.”
Marleau called Bob Boughner in the offseason before signing to make sure the Sharks coach was on board.
“He asked me, ‘Do I want him to come back?’ I said, “Absolutely, of course. It’s obvious, ”said Boughner. “When you need someone to define the culture in the locker room, what better guy? When I think of Patty, what comes to mind is first class. ”
Marleau in recent days has been inundated with adulation and respect from NHL players and coaches.
“It’s super special to have that respect, to have guys saying such kind words,” Marleau said, his voice fading. “You fight these guys, day in and day out, you play against them.
“They know the grind, they know what it takes to play in this league, and for them to show that respect and have all these good words, it’s very humbling.
Marleau also became emotional when speaking about his first NHL agent Don Baizley, who died of cancer in 2013.
“Everything he has done for me throughout my career,” said Marleau, pausing momentarily, “has been extremely amazing to me. I wish I could say more, but he’s definitely played a big part in my career.
Players and coaches across the NHL have spoken over the past few days of the enormity of Marleau’s success.
“We still haven’t been able to figure out or realize that it’s actually going to happen until now,” Karlsson said of Marleau’s record. “It’s not just a historic moment for Patty and for this organization, but it’s a historic moment for the whole league and every player who has played this game, whether with or against him.
The Sharks also printed shirts and hoodies that recognized Marleau’s achievement. Boughner said the team will “do something special” for Marleau ahead of the game, although Marleau said he was not sure Monday morning what the presentation might entail.
“I know there has been a lot of work that has been done today on behalf of a lot of people,” said Marleau. “I am very grateful for all the work that has been done.”
“I’m just trying to embrace it, to take everything into account. This is the most important thing, ”said Marleau. “But I love being able to thank the people who have supported me throughout my journey.”
# The Sharks announced Monday night that they will host an on-ice ceremony ahead of their Saturday game against the Minnesota Wild at the SAP Center.