On Monday night, San Jose Sharks’ center Patrick Marleau will break one of the most long-standing NHL records, playing in his record 1768th regular-season game. That puts him past fellow Saskatchewan native Gordie Howe, who played in 1,767 NHL regular-season games between 1946-47 and 1979-80. But while this accomplishment was honored with some special gloves, as Sie Morley writes at Fear The Fin, those gloves could have used some copy editing:
? the gloves pic.twitter.com/XvUk6MF3uH
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) April 19, 2021
Yeah, “1768th NHL Games” just doesn’t work. Either take off the th or take off the s on “games.” So that’s an unfortunate error. And while we’ve noted all sorts of graphic mistakes over the years, this one seems a little worse than usual considering that it’s an actual physical piece of equipment rather than a less-permanent TV graphic or a social media post. Perhaps the grammar can be fixed after the game.
The unfortunate thing here is that this mistake takes attention away from what really is an incredible accomplishment. Howe held the record for the most NHL games played for almost 60 years (since November 26, 1961), and many figured that record would never fall. Marleau (currently 41 years, 216 days old) is the second-oldest active NHL player at the moment, behind only past teammate Joe Thornton (41 years, 291 days, but 1,669 games played, and he’s said he doesn’t plan to try and beat Marleau). It’s awfully hard to remain in the NHL these days even when you’re approaching 40, much less on the other side of it.
Of course, the two records have some differences. Howe played 419 more regular-season games in the rival World Hockey Association between 1973-74 and 1977-78, and his final NHL season came when he was 51 and 52. Marleau did this in 24 NHL seasons versus Howe’s 26, but some of that is about longer seasons these days: Howe played in eras of 60 (1946-49), 70 (1949-67), 74 (1967-68), 76 (1968-70), 78 (1970-72) and 80 (1979-80) regular-season games. If longer seasons had existed in his early years, Howe might have put up higher NHL totals.
But then again, Marleau has played 195 NHL playoff games to Howe’s 157 (however, Howe did play in 78 WHA playoff games). And Marleau has played in an era with more farm teams, more global scouting, more constant competition for roster spots, and huge pressure to stay in peak physical form at all times, so his case has its own unique merits. So the key isn’t really trying to declare one accomplishment as superior to the other (that’s hard given the vastly different eras), but really in recognizing the remarkableness of both feats. But it’s unfortunate that these special gloves didn’t get more of a copy-editing pass.