In his first home game since become the NHL career leader in games played, Patrick Marleau got an assist from an old friend.
The San Jose Sharks played a tribute video for Marleau narrated by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton, a teammate of Marleau's in San Jose from 2006-2017 and again during the 2019-20 season.
Thornton and Marleau were the top two picks of the 1997 NHL Draft, with Thornton giong No. 1 to the Boston Bruins and Marleau second to the Sharks. A 2005 trade made them teammates in San Jose. Thornton and Marleau were the leading and fourth leading scorers, respectively, on the 2015-16 Sharks team that won the Western Conference title.
In addition to the video, the Sharks also shared Marleau's career highlights with plenty of commentary from teammates past and present and Mark Howe, Gordie Howe's son.
"It was super special to hear from those guys and all the kind words they had really hit home with me, as you could tell," Marleau said. "Some really great players and great friends and great teammates that were all in that video and it means a lot to me that they took the time to get on the video and say those kind words."
But tributes weren't only in video form. SAP Center was lined with fan art praising Marleau's accomplishment.
Even the ice itself was dressed up in tribute to Marleau.
Afterward, Marleau had some kind words for Sharks fans everywhere during a television interview.
Marleau said he will probably celebrate with family after the season, but couldn't thank them enough on Saturday.
"Just very grateful, again, for all of the support, especially from my family and my wife and kids and parents and brother and sister and their families. Couldn't have done it without them," Marleau said. "I have so many people to thank and I can't wait to be able to do that."
- NHL.com Independent Coorespondent Jessi Pierce contributed to this report