LOS ANGELES – At 34 years of age and in his 16th NHL season, Patrick Marleau is showing no signs of wear after hitting 1200 games in the NHL on Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Arguably the team’s most consistent player this season, Marleau hasn’t gone more than three straight games without a point in 2013-14. With 34 points in 34 games, he’s on pace for the third-highest point total of his career. Marleau had 86 points in 2005-06 and 83 points in 2009-10.
“I just try and make sure that my legs are going, skating, and good things happen when I’m skating and being hard on pucks,” Marleau said. “It really hasn’t changed all that much throughout the years.”
“Things are going good right now. Being able to stay with Logan [Couture] and the core group of guys helps a lot. Being familiar on the ice with your teammates, and off the ice, has a big influence on getting wins and getting points.”
The longtime Sharks forward, who was drafted by the club second overall in 1997, became the third-youngest player in NHL history to reach the 1200-game milestone. Only the Devils’ Scott Stevens in 1998 and Vincent Damphousse, while he was playing for San Jose in 2002, were younger when they reached the lofty mark.
On Thursday morning, it was pointed out to Marleau that he ranked 17th on the all-time NHL list of most points with a single NHL franchise (895). Among active players, the Sharks' all-time leading scorer is second only to New Jersey’s Patrik Elias.
“When you hear things like that you kind of step back for a second and look back at what’s been accomplished, and it’s a nice feeling,” Marleau said.
Marleau is a pending unrestricted free agent, and in line for at least one more fat contract before he’s done. He takes pride in maintaining his conditioning in the offseason, and has never played fewer than 74 games in a single season (his rookie year of 1997-98).
The importance of maintaining fitness in the offseason is something that Marleau said has become more important since he broke into the league.
It’s also been a key to his ability to consistently produce year-to-year.
“It’s a huge part of the game now. The game keeps evolving and that’s one of the things that’s happened over time where summers you get a little bit of rest but it’s a chance to get stronger, get faster, and get prepared for the season.
“Even during the season, players are doing a lot more to keep all the gains they’ve made in the summer. I think that’s probably one of the bigger things I’ve done in the past.”
Marleau rattled off a number of memories throughout his NHL career, but what he’s most thankful for is the opportunity to regularly compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs, even though a league championship has eluded both him and his franchise.
“[Having] an opportunity to win a championship is the big highlight,” he said. “Being here in San Jose, you get a chance to do that quite often.”