Patrick Marleau and his bitter-sweet ending don’t overshadow his incredible hockey career. Which has spanned over the last 24 years. Most of the games he’s played in the NHL have been for the San Jose Sharks. This has lead to some dubbing him ‘Mr Shark’ in reference to Gordie Howe‘s nickname, ‘Mr Hockey’.
Marleau has played over 1600 games for the Sharks. Becoming only the fourth player in NHL history to play 900 consecutive games. This was achieved one game after breaking the all-time NHL appearance record. He also holds the Sharks franchise record for points and goals. Although Marleau would have wanted a better result in potentially his last NHL game, it’s a night he will look back on with fondness.
Bitter-Sweet for Patrick Marleau
June 21st, 1997, Patrick Marleau was drafted second overall by the San Jose Sharks, just behind his old teammate, Joe Thornton.
He would go on to make 79 appearances in his rookie year. This would set him on his way to achieving a record 1779 games played in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The San Jose Sharks’ last game of the season, what may well be Patrick Marleau’s last ever game in the NHL unfortunately saw him and the Sharks lose the game 6-0.
Patrick would play for 13 minutes, over 19 shifts, and contributing to zero points. This was a game he would have been desperate to contribute to.
A Very Special Gift
However, the Sharks had a very special gift up their sleeve to end the day to ensure Marleau’s bitter-sweet ending would finish on an emotional high. The forward received the stick Gordie Howe used in his final NHL game, playing for the Hartford Whalers. This the player who previously held the most games played record for over 40 years.
The stick had been gifted by NHLPA on behalf of the Howe family. It was displayed at the hockey hall of fame in Toronto, which will now be replaced with Marleau’s game stick. A quote from Patrick, taken from the NHL website, on his gift. “Oh boy, I was blown away, I was speechless. The more I think about it, it’s crazy that they gifted that to me and I’m just very thankful and appreciative of the gift but also the meaning behind it, and yeah, still kind of speechless. It’s very special.”
He also received a rather unique painting of himself standing with ‘Mr. Hockey’. A piece created by LucasFilm and Disney master artist Kevin John. Ex-teammates of the past all contributed to the picture. Which is a testament to the kind of guy he was on and off the ice.
After the game, the 41 years old stayed on the ice for a while longer and received a standing ovation from the San Jose crowd. If it is to be his last game, it will be one he remembers for a long time. He has expressed his desire to play again next season, although no contract discussions have taken place with the Sharks as of yet.
Could we see Patrick Marleau play his 24th NHL season and add to his already incredible record? We’ll have to wait and see!