• Fri. May 14th, 2021

Like Gordie Howe, Patrick Marleau was made in Saskatchewan | CBC Sports

Byjuly

Apr 16, 2021

Patrick Marleau grew up chasing cattle on a farm in Aneroid, Sask., the place wheat fields dance on the wind-swept prairie.

Every winter, he skated in unforgiving temperatures that made his fingers and toes go numb. His household clocked numerous knuckle-gripping kilometres on slick again roads driving the boy to play hockey in close by cities.

All the whereas, younger Patrick dreamed of turning into the subsequent Saskatchewan product to make it to the National Hockey League.

On Saturday in Minnesota, the San Jose Sharks ahead is about to tie the file for essentially the most profession NHL video games performed (1,767) held by essentially the most legendary of all Saskatchewan hockey gamers, the late Gordie Howe (who additionally logged 419 video games within the WHA.)

Barring something unexpected, Marleau can break Mr. Hockey’s NHL file Monday in Las Vegas.

“For me growing up in Saskatchewan, one of the first things you do is look to see what players from Saskatchewan are in the NHL – and obviously Gordie comes to the top of that list,” says Marleau, 41. “And Bryan Trottier and Mark Lamb and players like that who grew up in my area who made it. It gives you hope.”

He says he thought: “Maybe that could be me one day playing in the NHL since these other guys before me did it coming from small farming communities in Saskatchewan.”

WATCH | 9 info about Patrick Marleau: 

With Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s all-time games played record, Rob Pizzo looks at 9 things you may not know about his memorable career. 2:08

New-found freedom

Marleau broke into the NHL at age 18 with the Sharks on a veteran-laden team featuring the likes of Bernie Nicholls, Kelly Hrudey and Owen Nolan. In that first training camp, he loved the new-found freedom of having the money from his NHL per-diem to go shopping at the mall.

His first head coach was hard-scrabble Darryl Sutter, of Viking, Alta.

“He was just a boy from a small town that wanted to play in the NHL and was trying to figure it all out,” Sutter says of Marleau. “You didn’t have to do much with Patty other than to tell him to work hard. And that’s basically what he did was work hard. It’s taken him a long way.

“He’s the epitome of a perfect player, when you think about it.”

The swift-skating Marleau credits Sutter for furthering the lessons learned on the farm about work ethic and drilling into him the importance of attention to defensive detail.

Proficient backchecking might not be sexy, but it can add years to an NHL career – as can meticulous attention to nutrition and off-ice fitness.

“Learning those things early on with Darryl helped me have such a long career and play this many games,” says Marleau, who has scored 566 and 1,196 points over 23 years. “When you play against top lines for the majority of your career, you have to be able to hold your own in the defensive zone.”

WATCH | Marleau on verge to pass Howe:

Canadian Patrick Marleau is poised to break the record for most NHL games played. Gordie Howe has held the record of 1,767 games for more than four decades. 1:59

Saskatchewan factory for NHL players

Saskatchewan sports fans take pride in the province’s reputation as a factory for NHL players. Regina sports writer Darrell Davis is not at all surprised to see Marleau, a two-time Olympic gold medallist, eclipse Howe in career games played.

“Saskatchewan produces nice, devoted, rugged hockey gamers.” says Davis, who co-authored Fire on Ice – Why Saskatchewan Rules the NHL with New York Islanders forward Jordan Eberle.

“When I wrote the guide, I saved asking guys like Tiger Williams, Bryan Trottier, Tanner Glass, Chris Kunitz and Ryan Getzlaf about their success. It all got here again to that small-town feeling in all of the hockey packages. The coaches are volunteers. You know the man who opens the sector early and floods the ice.

“The community supports them, and they feel the obligation back to thank them and work their hardest.”

At the 2009 NHL all-star recreation in Montreal, Marleau was enjoying mini-sticks hockey along with his toddler son Landon exterior a meal room. Howe, then 80, swept across the nook, grabbed Patrick’s stick and began enjoying with the little boy.

“I didn’t get any pictures of it,” Marleau says. “But I’ll never get that image out of my head.”

Twelve years later, Marleau cherishes the reminiscence as he will get set to cross a legend.

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