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San Jose Sharks legend Patrick Marleau announced his retirement from the NHL after 23 seasons on Tuesday, in which he wrote his resignation in The Players’ Tribune.
The 42-year-old athlete walks away as the NHL’s all-time leader in the game with 1,779.
“I can not stress this enough: thanks to the people of San Jose and the Sharks franchise. I came to San Jose as a 17-year-old boy,” Marleau wrote. “I had big dreams and you showed faith in me from day one. Thank you for allowing me to wear that shirt, year after year, decade after decade. I hope I have left a story that you and the city can be proud of. “
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Marleau was selected as number two overall by the Sharks in the 1997 NHL Draft, and Marleau quickly became the face of the franchise and wore the “C” on his sweater from 2003-2009. During his 21-year career in San Jose, the Marleau franchise became the all-time leader with, among other things, 522 goals, 1,111 points and seven seasons with 30 goals.
“Playing in San Jose was something of an adventure. It was a new team, a beautiful city in California (where the weather was just a little nicer than the cold, bitter Canadian air I was used to). I got to play in “one of the newest ice rinks in the league with loud, passionate fans cheering on us,” Marleau wrote. “The horn that goes when a home team goal is scored in the SAP Center is music to my ears. Our team was tough, hard-working and never stopped fighting until the last buzzer.
“Building the first years history for the Sharks was a responsibility I did not take lightly or for granted. I hope the city, the organization and the fans can be proud of what we achieved at the time.”
Marleau did everything you could in San Jose with team legend Joe Thornton, except to win the Stanley Cup. San Jose missed the off-season only four times during Marleau’s tenure, but won the Western Conference only once in the 2015-16 season. San Jose lost the series 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup final, Marleau’s lone appearance.
But while Marleau never lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup over his head, he took home two Olympic gold medals and won with his native Canada in 2010 (Vancouver) and 2014 (Sochi).
His original run with the Sharks ended after the 2016-17 season when he entered the open market for the first time in his career. Marleau wanted to sign a $ 18.75 million three-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, which he said was a “pinch me” moment.
“One of the hardest decisions I have ever made professionally was to try something new in the summer of 2017. I moved my family to the center of the hockey universe and put on a Maple Leafs jersey,” Marleau wrote. “Playing for the Leafs was surreal. A real ‘pinch me’ moment. My family loved it there and our boys still want to go back and play on our backyard. The opportunity I gave them was like being a kid again.
“But I was now the senior veteran of a team filled with insanely talented young kids. Kids like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Kids who are closer to my own sons’ age than me. Seeing them and their love of the game got me to fall in love with hockey again. “
Marleau would have a brief stint with San Jose again in 2019-20 before being sent to the Penguins by the trade deadline. But once again, Marleau would return to San Jose for his 41-year campaign in 2020-21, the final season of his Hall of Fame-worthy career. He would end his career with 566 goals, 631 assists and 1,197 points.
Marleau reached the peak of his career on April 19, 2021 against the Vegas Golden Knights when he passed Red Wings legend Gordie Howe for most career games played in NHL history. Mr. Hockey’s record had stood on his side since his retirement after the 1979-80 season when he was 51 years old.
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Marleau will only be eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2025, where he is likely to run as a candidate for the first ballot.
“Thank you, hockey,” Marleau wrote. “To the lessons. The laughs. The tears. You let me live my dreams.”
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