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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — For 23 seasons, Patrick Marleau woke up each day preparing to play hockey and that helped him eventually break Gordie Howe’s record for most games played in the NHL.

After a difficult year away from the game hoping another team would call and offer him a chance, Marleau announced his retirement Tuesday, ending a career that featured a record 1,779 games, 566 goals, two Olympic gold medals and nearly every significant San Jose Sharks record.

“It’s been hard,” Marleau said about his first season away from the game he started playing as a 3-year-old in Saskatchewan. “I’ve played this game that much all my life and I love it. I’m getting a whole new respect for my wife and my family and all the things that they had to go through when I was gone, just the day to day. But that’s my new challenge, and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing now. I can’t wait to become the best father and husband I can be.”

Marleau said he kept in shape in case a team called but nothing materialized and he realized a few weeks ago that he was ready to announce his retirement.

He capped his retirement announcement the same way he did in a letter posted on the Players’ Tribune, saying simply: “Thank you, hockey.”

Center Patrick Marleau played 21 of his 23 NHL seasons with the San Jose Sharks.

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Marleau broke Howe’s all-time games played record late last season, the capper to a remarkable career that started as the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 draft. Marleau retires ranked 23rd all-time with 566 goals and 50th with 1,197 points for San Jose, Toronto and Pittsburgh.

He also holds the Sharks records for games played (1,607), goals (522) and points (1,111) as he helped make the team into a perennial contender and a fixture in the South Bay.



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