Patrick Marleau will be playing in his 1,500th game as a San Jose Shark on Friday night when the team visits the Toronto Maple Leafs, his only other NHL team.
Marleau, 40, rejoined the Sharks this season after playing in 2017-18 and 2018-19 with the Maple Leafs. Including his time with Toronto, he will be playing in his 1,664th NHL game. In his second tour with the Sharks, Marleau’s impact has been immediate.
After picking up his fourth assist of the season in the Sharks’ 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, Marleau has two goals and six points in six games.
After playing either center or left wing in his previous 21 NHL seasons, Marleau is adapting to playing right wing this season.
“It’s getting a little bit easier,” Marleau told reporters. “As I get more comfortable, it’ll become more natural. The system we play, we’re all kind of interchangeable.”
“I don’t think anything Patty does ever amazes me anymore,” Sharks center and captain Logan Couture said. “He’s just so good. He’s the best player that I’ve practiced with, skating-wise, skill-wise, speed-wise. It seemed like he hasn’t lost a step, which is remarkable.”
Marleau will become the seventh player to play at least 1,500 games with the same NHL team or organization, joining Gordie Howe, Nicklas Lidstrom, Alex Delvecchio, Shane Doan, Ray Bourque and Steve Yzerman.
The Sharks, who have struggled in the early going, are off to a decent start on their trip. They will be facing a team that has lost two games in a row (one in overtime) in what is being deemed a disappointing start to the season by Maple Leafs followers.
“Maybe sometimes it takes a little longer than everyone’s expecting it to, like just, boom, it happens,” Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “When you have new faces, playing new systems, sometimes there’s miscues and stuff so we’re working it out, we’ll be all right.”
The Maple Leafs have been playing without their captain John Tavares with a broken finger with no return date determined yet.
The Maple Leafs have two injured players, who are close to making a return after missing the opening of the season because of surgery.
Left winger Zach Hyman had right knee surgery after he suffered a torn ACL in Game 4 of the first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins last season.
Defenseman Travis Dermott had offseason shoulder surgery.
They would be eligible to return Saturday when the Leafs visit the Canadiens, but they could be held out until next week.
The Maple Leafs lost at home 4-3 on a penalty shot in overtime to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday and then lost 4-2 on the road against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.
“We put ourselves in the position to win with a couple goals in the second but we can’t keep letting teams beat us in the third and, you know, come back against us like Columbus did,” said Maple Leafs right winger Kasperi Kapanen, who had a goal and an assist in Boston.
The Maple Leafs were playing in back-to-back games when they played Boston, but Friday they will be the rested team with the Sharks playing on back-to-back nights.
“I think back-to-backs are always tough, especially when you’re coming in against a team that’s not off a back-to-back,” said Maple Leafs center Alex Kerfoot, who had a goal and an assist Tuesday.
–Field Level Media