Patrick Marleau remembers his first training camp. It was 1997, and he had just turned 18. Though the San Jose Sharks had selected him No. 2 in the 1997 NHL Draft, getting drafted was one thing; trying to make the team was another. He was a step closer to the NHL, excited to receive per diem, a little walking-around money that allowed him to go to the mall and pick out things he couldn't afford before.
"And then just going to the rink and being able to call it your job … " he said Thursday, not finishing his sentence, collecting his thoughts. "And obviously, it's not a job when it's something you love and you get to do it every day. I just couldn't believe the situation I was in, just getting out of high school, getting out of junior, coming into training camp and knowing that was going to be my life."
Look at the life he has led: The 41-year-old forward has played 1,765 NHL games, two short of 1,767, the record held by Gordie Howe. The Sharks are scheduled to play at the Minnesota Wild on Friday (8 p.m. ET; BSN, BSWI, NBCSCA, NHL.TV) and Saturday, then at the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. If all goes according to plan, Marleau will tie the record Saturday and break it Monday.