Patrick Marleau announces retirement after 23 seasons

Thank you, hockey. That’s how Patrick Marleau
titled his retirement post with the Players’ Tribune, announcing that he is finally stepping away from the game for good. The NHL’s all-time games played leader didn’t play this season and will finally hang up the skates officially at the age of 42.

It was all too fitting that a kid from Aneroid, Saskatchewan would be the one to pass Gordie Howe’s record, as Marleau did last season. With 1,779 games played, no one has appeared more in the regular season than the 1997 second-overall pick. The first pick that season? None other than longtime teammate Joe Thornton, who shared so many memories with Marleau on the San Jose Sharks. Despite spending a few years with the Toronto Maple Leafs and a handful of games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s San Jose where Marleau will be irrevocably linked.

Though he won no individual awards and the Sharks never hoisted the Stanley Cup, Marleau’s career was far from disappointing. He twice pulled an Olympic gold medal over his head with Team Canada, a key part of both the 2010 and 2014 Games. Add two World Championship medals and nearly 200 playoff contests, and it’s easy to see why Marleau lasted just as long as he did.

Perhaps most impressive was his durability. In none of the 82-game seasons he played in did he suit up fewer than 74 times (which happened as a rookie), and for more than a decade at the end of his career, he was on the ice every night. Remember, this was still while suiting up in the playoffs nearly every year, as Marleau appeared in the postseason in 20 different campaigns.

The ultimate accumulator, Marleau will finish with 1,197 career regular-season points, good enough for 50th all time. While some may argue with his Hall of Fame credentials, he seems a good bet to eventually get in because of just how long he played at the highest level and how consistent he was during those years.