Patrick Marleau Announces NHL Retirement; All-Time Leader in Games Played

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 10, 2022

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 24: Patrick Marleau #12 of the San Jose Sharks and his family look up at the video board as he is honored for having passed Gordie Howe on the NHLs all-time games played list before the game against the Minnesota Wild at SAP Center on April 24, 2021 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brandon Magnus/NHLI via Getty Images

San Jose Sharks legend Patrick Marleau, the NHL's all-time leader in regular-season games played, announced his retirement Tuesday.

Marleau, who didn't play during the 2021-22 season, confirmed the decision in a piece for the Players' Tribune entitled "Thank You, Hockey":

"It's bittersweet for sure, but I have so much to look forward to. Who knows what the world has in store for me. If you would have told that kid on the frozen pond that he would break a games-played record held by none other than Gordie Howe, he would have thought you were crazy. It was never something I aimed for; it was just me loving this game so much that I never, ever wanted to hang up my skates. I am beyond lucky to have had the career I had, but I did not get here by myself."

Marleau, 42, was selected by the Sharks with the No. 2 pick in the 1997 NHL draft after a standout junior career with the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds.

The Canadian center spent the first 19 seasons of his 23-year career in San Jose. He owns numerous franchise records, including goals (522), points (1,111) and games played (1,607).

He left the Sharks in 2017 to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He came back to the Shark Tank in 2019 before getting traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2020 playoff run. He then returned to San Jose one last time to finish his career.

"I can't stress this one enough: thank you to the people of San Jose and the Sharks franchise," Marleau wrote. "I came to San Jose as a 17-year-old boy. I had big dreams and you showed faith in me from day one. Thank you for allowing me to put that jersey on, year after year, decade after decade."

In all, the dynamic forward tallied 1,197 points (566 goals and 631 assists) across 1,779 games. He passed Howe, who'd owned the games-played record since 1961, in April 2021.

His career accolades also included three All-Star Game appearances and two Olympic gold medals while playing for Team Canada at the 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi Games.

Along with the Sharks, Marleau thanked his parents, his wife and kids, several members of the San Jose organization, his teammates—including a shoutout to "Jumbo" Joe Thornton—and the other teams he suited up for over the past two-plus decades.

"And lastly...Thank you, hockey," he concluded. "For the lessons. The laughs. The tears. You let me live out my dreams."

Marleau should receive strong consideration for the Hockey Hall of Fame once his three-year waiting period is complete.