One day, not too long after Dustin Brown ended Tomas Hertl’s consecutive games-played streak and Kellan Lain played 0:02 and picked up 15 penalty minutes in his NHL debut, just as the finishing touches of Sharks captain Joe Thornton’s and alternate captain Patrick Marleau’s contract extensions were finalized and Anze Kopitar prepared to play at Dodger Stadium against Ryan Getzlaf in front of over 55,000 spectators, a seemingly unthinkable event occurred.
The Vancouver Canucks center, Henrik Sedin, was held out of a game against the Edmonton Oilers, and his lengthy ironman streak came to an end at an amazing 679 games.
I immediately wondered whether Patrick Marleau’s current ironman streak would graduate into the top 5 among active NHL players, and after counting it up positively, we got the folks at the organization we fondly refer to as the “Patrick Elias Sports Bureau” to double check it for us.
We were correct. Marleau is currently 5th on the active NHL ironman list, behind leader Jay Bouwmeester (686), Andrew Cogliano (512), Antoine Vermette (363), and Keith Yandle (355). It’s the second longest such streak in Sharks history, right behind Thornton’s 379 games, which was set between the day the captain was acquired from Boston and March 27, 2010.
The subjects of speed, stickhandling ability, hand-eye coordination, balance, checking ability, and shooting ability often get discussed when talking about the cream of the NHL’s crop. However, there is another subject that needs to be considered when truly understanding the impact of what players bring to the table in the NHL today.
Imagine the schedule, the challenges of travel, the sheer toll that the game places on an individual player’s body each season. Tack on the fact that the top players in question are playing against the best players on the other team nearly all of the time, and knock on every piece of wood possible, because durability is one of the most important qualities of any NHL superstar.
Let’s look at a recent accounting of some of the top players in the game today:
|Player, Team ||GP Since 2005-06 ||Pct. Team Total GP ||GP Since 2007-08 ||Pct. Team Total GP |
|Joe Thornton, SJS ||668 ||99.10% ||505 ||99.00% |
|Patrick Marleau, SJS ||659 ||97.80% ||500 ||98.00% |
|Ryan Getzlaf, ANA ||606 ||89.90% ||467 ||91.60% |
|Anze Kopitar, LAK || || ||502 ||98.40% |
|Henrik Sedin, VAN ||672 ||99.70% ||508 ||99.60% |
|Daniel Sedin, VAN ||643 ||95.40% ||480 ||94.10% |
|Sidney Crosby, PIT ||522 ||77.50% ||362 ||71.00% |
|Evgeni Malkin, PIT || || ||421 ||82.50% |
When you count the fact that Joe Thornton has currently skated in 251 straight contests, which ranks fourth all-time in Sharks history, it’s absolutely remarkable to note that in his nine seasons with the team, he has missed a grand total of only 5 regular season games. Over the same span, Marleau has missed only 15.
When you compare and contrast that with other top stars in the game, the Sharks duo of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are miles ahead of most, doing it in the ultra-competitive Western Conference with all of the travel considerations therein. It really is a remarkable achievement to date, and it really gives Sharks fans cause for celebration to learn that they have agreed to extend their time in Silicon Valley three additional years.
Let’s not take their contributions for granted. They are true NHL stars, and it’s a privilege to watch them work toward their ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to San Jose.
Thank you, Joe and Patrick. I’m Dan Rusanowsky, for sjsharks.com.