Marleau returns to Sharks in pursuit of record games played by Gordie Howe

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Patrick Marleau is back with the San Jose Sharks to break a record held by Gordie Howe.Marleau joined San Jose on Tuesday, signing a one-year contract worth at least US $ 700,000. The 41-year-old can now break Howe’s all-game NHL record in the Sharks uniform he has worn for the vast majority of his career.

“If that happens it would be something pretty special for sure,” Marleau said on a video call. “Gordie also being from Saskatchewan, my home province, it would be pretty cool to have that connection with him. ”

Marleau is fifth in games played and is 44 behind Howe’s mark for next season, which the league hopes to start on Jan. 1. He played his first 19 seasons with the Sharks before leaving for two years in Toronto, returned last season and was traded to Pittsburgh on the deadline for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

“I still love to play,” Marleau said. “I still love competition. I’m still living my dream of winning the Stanley Cup and I’m still able to go out and play and have fun and I think that’s what keeps me going.

He will try again to achieve that elusive goal with San Jose, who have strengthened their roster this offseason after missing the playoffs and finishing 29th out of 31 teams. The Sharks also brought home home forward Matt Nieto on a one-year, $ 700,000 contract on Tuesday.

Nieto, a Marleau teammate when the Sharks went to the Cup final in 2016, has spent the last three seasons and more with Colorado.

“His speed and defensive responsibilities made him one of Colorado’s best penalty killers,” said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson. “And we think those strengths, along with his decision making and the way he plays, will add a lot to our team. ”

Marleau, the second overall pick in the 1997 draft, leads the Sharks franchise with 518 goals and 1,102 points and is second behind longtime teammate Joe Thornton in assists.

Thornton – who is unsigned – and Marleau texted about playing together once again. While Thornton has been linked with other teams, Marleau was only going to play next season for the Sharks.

“I haven’t really looked at too many other places,” he said. “I was just trying to get back here, and I’m thankful that everything worked out. ”

In 1,723 regular season games with San Jose, Toronto and Pittsburgh, Marleau tallied 562 goals and 626 assists for 1,188 points.

“Patrick is one of the most iconic players in San Jose Sharks history, as well as one of the National Hockey League’s most respected veterans,” Wilson said. “The leadership he brings on and off the ice has been well documented over the course of his fantastic NHL career, and his competitive fire to win still burns fiercely. Patrick’s behavior by example is inspiring and continues to resonate with our group of young players. . ”

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