And if Gordie were alive today, Murray said, he would be delighted to see fellow Saskatchewan native Patrick Marleau break his long-standing record for most games played in the NHL – which is due to happen on Monday. evening in Las Vegas, except unforeseen. “I think he would be very happy and be the first on the ice to applaud Patrick for this really incredible stage,” said Murray.
Gordie Howe, who went by the nickname of Mr. Hockey, set the record 1,767 games in the NHL before retiring in 1980 at the age of 52. Howe died in 2016 at the age of 88.
Marleau tied the record Saturday night at Minnesota.
Murray said he was also happy to see that his father’s record will be broken by Marleau, someone praised for the same dedication, passion and humility as Gordie Howe, who “never set himself up. on a pedestal ”.
« [Marleau] It’s a class act, ”he said. In the same way that Gretzky broke daddy’s scoring records, it was great to see him accomplished by someone who was humble and dedicated to the game and grateful for the things he had. ”
As Monday approaches, Marleau’s family are cheering him on too, from the Saskatchewan farm where he first fell in love with football.
WATCH | Take stock of Patrick Marleau’s career in 90 seconds:
Shoot pucks near the barn
Marleau grew up on his parents’ farm near Aneroid, Saskatchewan, 250 kilometers southwest of Regina.
Her mother, Jeanette, a retired teacher, remembers how her two sons, Richard and Patrick, played mini-stick hockey in the kitchen on her linoleum floor.
“If I wanted to wax [the floor], they were using their socks and they were polishing them at the same time. They would play hockey and [polishing], ” she said.
Richard took duct tape and wrote “NHL” on the back of their jerseys.
“There were a lot of battles on the kitchen floor. It looked like we were going to fall asleep on a Saturday night when Hockey Night in Canada started playing… and then mum would say ‘Oh no it’s time to go to bed’ just when things were really going well, ”he said. he with a chuckle.
But Marleau’s singular focus on honing his skills began to set him apart from other young players.
His father, Denis, who is still a farmer at 74, remembers how Patrick carried an ice cream container full of slices into the barn and practiced his shooting on a sheet of plywood.
“You always knew where he was on the farm. You could hear that bang, bang – the washers hitting the boards, ”Denis said. “We didn’t have to tell him to do anything about hockey. He loved it. “
At Christmas one year, Marleau’s parents gave him an instructional video of Mario Lemieux, his favorite player, on VHS and he played it over and over again.
“I’m sure he carried this tape. He watched her for hours, ”Denis said.
Hard work and a little luck
Marleau was selected by San Jose in the 1997 NHL Draft.
The team’s veteran goaltender, Kelly Hrudey, said he saw something special in the young rookie and so, along with his wife Donna and three daughters, he invited Marleau to live in their home. ‘hosts. Hrudey said he could tell Marleau was raised by his parents to be nice, and he hasn’t changed today.
“Very, very humble. For all he’s accomplished, the things he’s done in his career, and all the money he’s made, to me he hasn’t changed, ”Hrudey said.
WATCH | Why Kelly Hrudey invited Patrick Marleau to come stay:
The NHL analyst for Sportsnet attributes Marleau’s long career to his unique combination of skill, intelligence and passion, as well as Marleau’s intense off-ice training and a bit of luck that have him. helped escape injury.
“He’s got a body that just refuses to collapse and that’s what’s very, very rare,” Hrudey said.
On Thursday, Marleau spoke to reporters at a virtual press conference.
“I love being there and playing. Obviously every kid’s dream is to win the Stanley Cup, so I’ve been chasing it all this time, ”said Marleau. He has yet to win an NHL championship.
Marleau, who did not mention his retirement, said he hoped to be remembered as a player who loved the game, his team and the victory.
“You know, I gave it my all,” he says.
Murray Howe, a doctor who now lives in Toledo, Ohio, said his father Gordie had the same attitude and was never distracted by his stats or records.
“It’s more about doing what he loves and feeling lucky to be able to do it for as long as he could and to do it at the level that he has done,” he said.
“When Dad finally hung up the blades he knew he had left everything on the ice and I think he’s just as proud of everyone who does the same on the ice, including Gretzky and Patrick. [Marleau]. «