Marleau wants to return for 24th NHL season, may leave Sharks

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Patrick Marleau is hoping to play a 24th season in the NHL, but it may not be with the San Jose Sharks.

“I feel I still have a lot to give, a lot more than what happened this year for myself personally, pointswise,” the 41-year-old center said Thursday. “It was a tough, tough season, with everything, with COVID. I was not happy with my play or with the results I got this year. There were some pretty sleepless nights with that, but I’m looking forward to a rebound season next year.”

Marleau scored nine points (four goals, five assists) in 56 games this season, the fewest in his NHL career. He said he played with a high ankle sprain, and a sore groin, over the final eight games.

Marleau passed Gordie Howe for first in NHL history when he played game No. 1,768 on April 19. Marleau has played 910 consecutive games, 54 behind former forward Doug Jarvis for the most in NHL history (964) (Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle has played 922 consecutive games, 42 behind Jarvis).

“It’d be amazing to see him break the next record, which is the Iron Man because he’s done a heck of a job of smashing records this year,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said Thursday. “The desire he has to keep going is incredible. Obviously, it’s not a money thing at this point. I know I’ve had talks with him and he wants to continue playing. It’ll come down to how he feels in September, teams’ plans, obviously, and opportunity.”

Marleau would become an unrestricted free agent after this season. He said he has not spoken with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson about his future in San Jose; he has played 21 seasons there and is their leading scorer with 1,111 points (522 goals, 589 assists) in 1,607 games.

Selected No. 2 by San Jose in the 1997 NHL Draft, Marleau scored 1,197 points (566 goals, 631 assists) in 1,779 NHL regular-season games with the Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins. He has played the most regular-season games in NHL history without winning a Stanley Cup and scored 127 points (72 goals, 55 assists) in 195 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“That’s the ultimate goal,” Marleau said. “We’ll see how everything plays out, but that’s always the goal, to win a Stanley Cup.”

Marleau is fourth among active NHL players in points behind Maple Leafs center Joe Thornton (1,529), Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (1,325) and Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (1,320) and 50th on the NHL scoring list, 30th among centers.

If he has played his final season with the Sharks, Marleau said he was grateful he got to break Howe’s record with them.

“We live here year-round, so it’s super special to be able to do it in a Sharks uniform,” he said. “The team that drafted me, the team I’ve played most of my career with, the fans I’ve played in front of for so many years, people in the community, friends, family. It was pretty special.”

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