Thank you, Patrick

Thank you, Patrick

Courtesy of the San Jose Sharks

SAN JOSE — I’m going to sound like a broken record. Frankly, I don’t care that I do.

Last year I wrote about Mr. Shark, Patrick Marleau, when he broke Gordy Howe’s record for most games played in the history of the NHL and what he meant to the city of San Jose.

Well, the inevitable has finally happened and as they saying goes, all good things come to end.

That good thing was Marleau’s hockey career. After 23 seasons (21 as a San Jose Shark), Marleau sat up on a stage where center ice is at the SAP Center, aka the Shark Tank, on a Tuesday morning and announced his retirement from professional hockey.

Marleau, who did not play this past season, said he had made this season a while ago but it was about two weeks ago, he was able to get the courage to want to make it official.

In attendance was his wife Christina, his four sons (Landon, Brody, Jagger and Caleb), other family members and friends, past teammates and fans. They all gathered to honor, not just the player, but as well as the person who brought so much joy to the South Bay for 21 years.

Despite playing a couple of years for the Toronto Maple Leafs and a brief stint with his childhood team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Marleau achieved each of his iconic career accolades and cherished memories in a Sharks uniform.

His 500th goal and breaking Howe’s record are the big two that immediately come to mind but there were so much. One of my favorite memories I was able to witness in person is when he scored the game winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 4 of their first round series that resulted in a sweep back in 2010.

Also, who could forget the thrilling game winning overtime goal off the two-on-one rush with Joe Thornton he scored against Detroit in the very next series that gave the San Jose Sharks a commanding 3-0 lead at the time. Sharks radio voice Dan Rusanowsky’s call still gives me chills and pumps me up to this day whenever I hear it.

Marleau’s career stats speak for themselves:
  • 566 goals (522 as a Shark)
  • 1,197 points (1,111 as a Shark)
  • 1,779 games played (NHL record)
  • 1 of 5 players in the history of the NHL to have played 1500+ games, 500+ goals, and 100+ game winning goals.
  • 1 of 2 players in the history of the NHL to have scored a game winning goal against 30 NHL teams.
  • Tied for 14th in the NHL with 72 playoff goals and tied for 9th in the NHL with 16 game winning playoff goals.

A first ballot hall of famer for sure, that also includes two Olympic gold medals competing for Team Canada.

More importantly, the impact Marleau has had with the fans and city of San Jose is comparable to Joe Montana and Jerry Rice had with the San Francisco 49ers, Will Clark and Barry Bonds had with the San Francisco Giants, and Stephan Curry currently with the Golden State Warriors.

Like the way the above-mentioned players were inspirations for kids growing up wanting to play football, baseball or basketball, Marleau has been iconic in the way he has influenced a generation of kids wanting to be a hockey player. Something that wouldn’t have even been imaginable 20 years ago, is a reality today.

I asked Marleau if he has had a chance to reflect on the impact his legacy has had on the South Bay and of course Mr. Humble himself provided this answer.

“You know I think it’s always kind of funny to see that. Being around the rink and talking to the kids that are playing here (in San Jose). It’s pretty cool to see when there’s a kid with your jersey on. Or they come up and say you’re my favorite player or can I get a picture with you. When that happens, it humbles you, I think. That’s what I was doing, when I was growing up, I was looking up to Mario Lemieux and all these other players. To be the person that kids are looking up to now, it’s a big responsibility, but it's also pretty cool that they do that. I enjoy when somebody comes up to me like that. If they want a picture or want something signed, I’ll take all the time in the world to do that for them,” Marleau said.

That’s the difference in what separates not just Marleau, but hockey players in general from the rest of the top four North American sports. These guys really care about the fans and love taking time to establish a connection with them. Over the years I can remember as a fan waiting outside the player’s parking lot outside the Shark Tank seeking autographs and pictures from guys like Marco Sturm, Bryan Marchment, Teemu Selane, and even Thornton (who signed my splint for my broken finger after his first home game as a Shark).

What will Marleau miss the most now that his career is over?

“I think they biggest thing that’ll stand out is, something most players who retire will say they miss, is being in the locker room, being with all of your buddies on the road. Obviously, competing with each other and doing those things creates that bond. That’s something I’ve found I’ve been missing but very thankful I’ve had it for so many years”, said Marleau.

Even with all the personal accolades he achieved throughout his prolific career, Marleau was always a team guy first.

“My drive was always helping my team win.”

Marleau will keep busy being a family man and help coach his four sons’ hockey teams as his hockey life has come full circle for Mr. Shark.

In his personal article he wrote in the Players Tribune and at the end of his retirement speech, he ended both by saying “Thank You hockey.”

My last words to Marleau, after the media had a chance to ask him a few more questions after the press conference, need to be from every hockey fan in general who loves this game on ice:

Thank you, Patrick.

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