San Jose Sharks veteran Patrick Marleau tied the renowned Gordie Howe for most games played on Saturday night against the Wild. He has officially skated in 1,767 games and is poised to set the NHL record on Monday night against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Though it will be a special moment at T-Mobile Arena when Marleau rewrites the record books, a couple of nights earlier, a sellout crowd of 3,000 fans at Xcel Energy Center made sure he felt appreciated for tying Howe’s legendary mark.
“When you get recognized like that, not only your team standing up for you, but the other team, and the other building’s fans cheering for you, too it hits home,” Marleau said. “It’s definitely humbling for them to show their support for me.”
Even more humbling for Marleau was the fact that the each player on Wild personally shook his hand after the game. Asked about the display of respect, coach Dean Evason noted that Wild veteran Ryan Suter orchestrated the moment.
“I was so happy to hear that our group stayed out the entire team shook his hand after the game,” Evason said. “I think that is such a classy thing for our group to do. We talked about it after the game in the coaches room that anytime a name can even be mentioned in the same sentence as Gordie Howe, it’s very, very special.”
For his career, Marleau has scored 566 goals and tallied 630 assists. He’s spent time with the Sharks, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and hasn’t missed a game in more than a decade.
“I don’t know if that’s a record that’s going to be broken again,” Wild veteran Zach Parise said. “At least it’s going to be there for a long time. You have to have a lot of things go right, a lot of things go the right way with health. Unfortunately, he’s gone through two lockouts. He could be at 2,000 games now. It’s an incredible number.”
That’s putting it lightly. To put everything in perspective, Wild center Nico Sturm was 2 years old when Marleau made his NHL debut.
“There’s a little bit of an age gap between us,” Sturm said. “To me, I can’t even start to understand how he play that many games. I highly doubt that record is going to be broken any time soon with the game, how it’s played right now, how fast and how physical it is. It’s going to be real tough to get to that number for anybody.”
As for setting the NHL record on Monday night, Marleau plans to soak in the milestone moment as much as he can.
“My family’s going to be there to help celebrate,” Marleau said. “It’ll be super special having them in the building.”