Sharks' Marleau passes Howe to set NHL games played record


Move over, Mr. Hockey.

It's Mr. Shark's record now.

Patrick Marleau played in his 1,768th NHL game Monday night, breaking Gordie Howe's record for the most games played in the league's history.

Marleau, 41, skated the first shift of the Sharks' game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.

The Sharks picked Marleau No. 2 overall in the 1997 NHL Draft, and he has set just about every franchise record imaginable during parts of 21 seasons in San Jose. Marleau has played more games (1,596), scored more goals (522) and recorded more points (1,110) than any other Shark.

Marleau spent two seasons (2017-18, 2018-19) with the Toronto Maple Leafs and was shipped to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2020 after returning to San Jose, but he has been a durable fixture in the Sharks' lineup outside of those short stretches. The forward played in at least 74 games in every 82-game season of his career, as well as all 48 games during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, all 66 possible games in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 regular season and all 45 games so far this season.

During Marleau's time with the franchise, the Sharks grew from scrappy upstart to perennial contender, qualifying for the postseason in all but one season between 2003-04 and '16-17. San Jose won more playoff games (74) than all but three franchises during that span, reaching the 2016 Stanley Cup Final but never lifting the sport's most hallowed trophy.

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The Sharks are entering a new era. For the first time since Marleau's debut in 1997, San Jose is on the verge of missing the playoffs for two consecutive years. The Sharks entered Monday with the NHL's ninth-worst record and a 4.8 percent chance of drafting No. 2 overall.

That prospect, and just about every other current and future NHL player, will face considerably longer odds of breaking Marleau's still-growing games-played record.

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