It's no question that Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton have each put their stamp on the San Jose Sharks organization during their incredible careers. Their recent major milestones are a friendly reminder that since the two arrived in teal, they have helped change the landscape of hockey in both California and the NHL.
Looking back to when the duo was drafted back-to-back at first and second overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, neither Marleau nor Thornton envisioned they'd be playing for the same team for the better half of their careers. And they certainly did not anticipate reaching important milestones at nearly the same time in the same season, as Marleau netted his 500th goal on February 2 and Thornton notched his 1,000th assist on March 6.
"Back in '97, I don't think we both could fathom him doing this," Thornton said of Marleau's 500-goal accomplishment.
Yet when the Sharks made their epic blockbuster trade to acquire Thornton from the Boston Bruins on November 30, 2005, the two began their run in Sharks history together and have never looked back.
For Marleau, the soft-spoken, but speedy winger has spent the past 19 years representing San Jose in a Sharks sweater and has slowly chipped away at every major statistical record for the franchise, including games played (1,481), points (1,076), power-play goals (159), shorthanded goals (17), overtime goals (9), game-winning goals (98) and finally, he adds goals to that list where he also ranks fifth among active NHL players.
Video: SJS@VAN: Marleau goes top shelf for 500th career goal
"I told Patty between periods, I don't think I have 500 shots in my career," Thornton recently told NHL Now after Marleau's historic night. "What can we say - it's just an unbelievable task to do in this day and age."
"It's elite company he's in," Sharks Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. "Only 45 players in the history of the game have scored 500 goals; it's quite an accomplishment."
As for Thornton, he ranks first on the Sharks in assists (720), points per game (1.03) and plus-minus (+183), is second on the team in points (934) and games played (905), and third in goals (214).
In 2006-07 he became the third player in NHL history to have back-to-back 90-plus assist seasons, joining Hockey Hall-of-Famers Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
Video: SJS@WPG: Thornton records 1,000th assist on late goal
"I think he joins 13 guys in the history of the game," DeBoer said. "That's an incredible number, an incredible accomplishment, something I'll tell my grandkids I was on the bench and witnessed. He is a great player."
While their on-ice contributions have played an obvious role in the Sharks continued success, their impact in the Sharks dressing room and on the fans is invaluable.
Whether it be from the sarcastic, dry-humor of Marleau, who has now lived in San Jose longer than his hometown of Aneroid, Saskatchewan, or the shirtless, bearded, kid-at-heart of "Jumbo," both players have been integral parts of the makeup of the Sharks dressing room culture.
"I've known the guy for a long, long time," Thornton said of Marleau. "He's a fantastic teammate - one of the best you could ever have."
"I think it says everything about who he is," Mikkel Boedker said of Thornton. "He's the wheel behind the team."
And as true veterans of the game, the two humbly deflected compliments to their many teammates over the past two decades.
"I've been lucky enough to stay healthy all these years, and play with a lot of good scorers - that's the key," Thornton said. "Having the Jonathan Cheechoo's, the Glen Murray's, the Joe Pavelski's and the Patty Marleau's. The list goes on, and on, and on."
"When you hit a mark like this, you start thinking about everybody who has helped you along the way," Marleau added. "I can't name them all, that's for sure."
One name is still sitting next to him on the bench and has been for the last 12 years. And despite the familiarity, Marleau doesn't seem to mind Thornton's playoff-turned-lifestyle beard one bit.
"If I score a goal, or we score a goal, they can rub their beards all over my face all they want," Marleau joked on NHL Now.
While each had a short opportunity to relish their special moment their focus is now directed on the end of the season as the team vies for a first place finish in the Pacific Division.
"It's on to the next one," Marleau said smiling. "There is no rest."
With all the statistical and personal accomplishments, both now turn their full attention to reaching hockey immortality and together, bringing a Stanley Cup to their new, yet long-standing home.