LAS VEGAS — Patrick Marleau surpassed “Mr. Hockey” for essentially the most video games performed in NHL historical past.
Marleau skated in his 1,768th profession recreation to interrupt Gordie Howe’s file when the San Jose Sharks took on the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night time.
Although it was on the highway, an exuberant pro-Golden Knights crowd gave Marleau a rousing welcome throughout warmups.
Marleau’s spouse, Christina, and 4 sons have been in attendance, which wouldn’t be attainable in San Jose, the place followers nonetheless aren’t allowed throughout the pandemic.
“My spouse, I couldn’t have carried out it with out her over all these years,” an emotional Marleau stated previous to San Jose’s morning skate. “She’s by far my largest supporter. I can’t thank her sufficient and I can’t thank the boys sufficient.
“My largest concern is that I don’t thank all people, that I’m going to overlook any person. If I miss any person, I’m so sorry, however I’ll finally, you understand, attempt to make it proper and thank all people that must be thanked. Simply very grateful.”
Over his profession, the 41-year-old Marleau has made 1,596 appearances with the Sharks, 164 with the Toronto Maple Leafs and an extra eight as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Howe performed in 1,767 regular-season video games and 419 extra within the World Hockey Affiliation, the latter of which aren’t acknowledged by the NHL.
“I really feel very lucky to have a entrance row seat for it,” stated Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer, who coached Marleau for two-plus seasons in San Jose. “I really feel lucky that I do know the person and the athlete having coached him. He was a gentleman. He was an ideal teammate. That’s gonna be a type of issues I’ll have the ability to inform my grandkids about at some point, that not solely did I coach him, however I used to be there for that night time, fairly particular accomplishment.”
Throughout his virtually quarter-century profession, Marleau has 566 objectives, 1,196 factors, three All-Star appearances and two Olympic gold medals for Canada in 2010 and ’14.
The respect Marleau has established all through his profession was evident by the feedback of a number of Golden Knights, San Jose’s chief rival since Vegas entered the league in 2017. Each Marc-Andre Fleury and captain Mark Stone praised Marleau for his sturdiness via two eras of hockey, one the place gamers have been rather more bodily at first of his profession, to the present state of the NHL, the place skaters are sooner and conditioned for a extra up-tempo type.
“That’s a bit unbelievable,” stated Fleury, no stranger to milestone moments after surpassing Corridor of Famer Ed Belfour for fourth on the NHL’s wins checklist final Wednesday.
“He’s been so constant all through his profession. He’s been an iron man. Didn’t get damage for lengthy intervals of time. Yearly he’s all the time been an excellent participant, additionally. To hold in there that lengthy and play that many video games, it’s superb. He’s a man who’s very revered across the league.”
Marleau — who has performed via bouts with the flu, quite a few accidents and as soon as chartered a aircraft to affix his teammates in Nashville for a recreation in 2009 after the start of considered one of his sons — performed in his 899th consecutive recreation since final lacking a matchup when he was 29.
“You go battle with these guys day in and day trip, you play in opposition to them, and so they know the grind and know what it takes to play on this league,” an emotional Marleau stated. “For them to point out their respects and have all these form phrases, it’s very humbling.”
Barring something uncommon, Marleau will play his 900th consecutive recreation in Las Vegas on Wednesday and would grow to be the fourth participant ever to succeed in that mark.
“As a lot as you hate your opponent, as a lot as you need to beat your opponent, you continue to respect your opponent,” Stone stated.
Till Marleau’s milestone second simply off the Las Vegas Strip, nobody has been in a position to attain a file many thought was unbreakable when Howe retired.
“They in all probability stated this about Gordie Howe as nicely, however I actually really consider it’s a file that’s not going to be damaged,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner stated. “I don’t see anyone lasting that lengthy.”
Added Sharks teammate Erik Karlsson: “That is greater than a private milestone. I feel that this isn’t solely a historic second for Patty and this group, however I feel it’s historic for your complete league and each participant that has performed this recreation with or in opposition to him or previous to his time.”
The sport on Monday was stopped early on for a congratulatory message from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that was proven on video screens.
“To be merely talked about in the identical sentence as Gordie Howe is an achievement most hockey gamers can solely dream about,” Bettman stated. “To interrupt considered one of his data is historic.”
Marleau, who made his debut on Oct. 1, 1997, at age 18 years and 16 days — the youngest for any participant within the NHL since Lee Wharton debuted at 17 years, 81 days in 1945 for the Rangers — shouldn’t be the one skilled athlete to interrupt a big file in Las Vegas.
Corridor of Fame basketball participant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar drained his signature skyhook inside UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Heart on April 5, 1984, in opposition to the Utah Jazz, to surpass Wilt Chamberlain’s 31,419 factors to grow to be the NBA’s profession main scorer. Abdul-Jabbar concluded his profession with 38,387 factors.