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It’s Been “Hard” Year for Marleau



It’s been a hard year for Patrick Marleau.

At the end of the 2020-21 season, the San Jose Sharks’ 1997 first-round pick made it clear that he wanted to come back for his 24th NHL season.

“I was not happy with my play, with the results I got this year,” Marleau said of his four-goal campaign in his May exit interview. “There were some pretty sleepless nights with that. I’m looking forward to a rebound season next year.”

But that call from an NHL team to come back never came. So today, officially, almost a full calendar year since his last NHL game on May 12, 2021, the All-Time Games Played record holder announced his retirement before family, friends, old San Jose Sharks teammates, season ticket holders, and local media. “Mr. Shark” will retire with 1,779 games played, 566 goals scored, and 1,179 points, most of those accumulated, naturally, as a member of the San Jose Sharks.

“It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. It’s been hard. I won’t lie,” Marleau said this morning about not playing. “I think a lot of people sometimes say, oh yeah, everything’s okay. But it’s been difficult.

“I’ve played this game pretty much all my life and love it.”

He added: “I felt like I could still play, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

It was a retirement decision a year in the making.

“A couple of weeks ago,” he shared of when he was ready. “I think I knew that I was going to retire a long time ago, but finally building up enough courage to get up here and speak, announce my retirement.”

There was a flirtation to be part of Team Canada in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“There was some talk, but it was just everything that was going on in the world. We just decided not to,” he said of a process that never got as far as a formal invitation.

It was unsaid a month ago, when Patrick Marleau and his wife Christina, along with their boys Landon, Brody, Jagger, and Caleb, visited long-time teammate Joe Thornton and his family in Florida.

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“We didn’t really talk about it, but obviously, he knew about it,” Marleau said.

And say it he did, with eloquence, in a Player’s Tribune essay this morning titled “Thank You, Hockey”:

So how does Patrick Marleau want to be remembered by hockey fans?

“That he left everything out there, competing,” he told us, after an introspective pause.

“The next step is just spend some time with the family and coaching my kids,” Marleau shared. “I don’t know what the future will hold, but my wife seems to think somewhere down the road, I’ll be back in hockey somehow.”

And will his next time at SAP Center be for his jersey retirement ceremony?

Sharks president Jonathan Becher suggested as much: “I’m sure we’ll have the opportunity to do something appropriate next year, once we know what the season schedule looks like.”

“That would be unbelievable,” Marleau said, eyes sparkling. “It’s another dream kids have. You want to play [in the NHL] and you’re like, how cool would that be? To get your jersey retired?”

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