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.

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