Marleau sets NHL record with 1,768th game

Los Angeles (AFP) –


San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau broke ice hockey legend Gordie Howe's record for the most appearances in NHL history on Monday, playing his 1,768th game in a 3-2 defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights.

The 41-year-old made his 899th consecutive appearance to surpass fellow Canadian Howe in the all-time standings.

Marleau's milestone appearance was given a salute at the first break in play, with an announcement in the stadium.

A recorded message of congratulations from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman marked the moment as Marleau acknowledged a standing ovation from fans with his stick raised aloft.

"To be merely mentioned in the same sentence as Gordie Howe is an achievement most hockey players can only dream about," Bettman said in his message. "To break one of his records is historic."

After the game, the Golden Knights players lined up to shake hands with Marleau.

"With everything that's going on, my biggest fear is that I don't thank everybody, that I'm going to miss somebody," Marleau said before the game.

"I just want to be able to thank everybody, and if I miss somebody, I'm so sorry, but I'll eventually, you know, try and make it right and thank everybody that needs to be thanked. Just very grateful."

Vegas coach Peter DeBoer, who coached Marleau at San Jose from 2015 to 2019, also paid tribute to his former player.

"What an accomplishment," DeBoer said. "Any time you're passing Gordie Howe on any list, it's a wow-type moment."

Marleau is a two-time Olympic gold medallist with Canada's national team but has never won ice hockey's biggest prize, the Stanley Cup, during a career that has straddled four decades.

"I just love being out there and playing, and every kid's dream is to hoist that Stanley Cup so I've been chasing that all this time," Marleau said in an interview last week.

Asked on Monday why he continued to play, an emotional Marleau replied: "I just love it."