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As Marleau prepares to continue games-played streak, who are the NHL's active ironmen?

Patrick Marleau will play in his 789th consecutive game Thursday, but that's not even the longest streak in the NHL. Here's a look at the longest active streaks in the league.

Patrick Marleau isn’t about to waste any time making his return to the San Jose Sharks. After it was reported Tuesday that the 40-year-old’s signing was imminent, and following the official announcement of his one-year deal with San Jose Wednesday, Marleau will step into the Sharks’ lineup Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

To be sure, there are a few of reasons for the quick turnaround. First and foremost, the belief among the Sharks’ coaching staff is that Marleau is ready and that he can make an impact. That’s witnessed by the fact Marleau was skating alongside Logan Couture and Timo Meier on the Sharks’ first line in practice line rushes. There’s also the matter of injuries. With Marcus Sorensen sidelined, which played a part in the veteran’s signing in the first place, the Sharks are in dire need of help on the wing, which Marleau can provide.

But maybe the most important reason – at least as far as the record books are concerned – is that getting into action the first game following his signing means Marleau’s games played streak continues.

As it stands, Marleau is prepared to enter Thursday’s game having played in 788 consecutive contests. And while you may be screaming at your computer and pounding your fists that he’s missed the first four games of this season – and if you are, relax – the NHL’s ruling is that because Marleau wasn’t under contract, he technically didn’t miss a game. That means, technically, his streak is still alive. So calling it his 789th-straight contest is, again, technically correct. As we all know, that's the best kind of correct.

That Marleau will keep his streak alive is worth noting, too, not only because it’s been alive and well since April 9, 2009, but because it means he has a chance to creep further up the all-time list. At present, Marleau’s 788-game streak is the sixth-longest in NHL history, and should he skate in the final 78 games of the Sharks’ season, he will run his streak to 866 games. That would vault Marleau ahead of Andrew Cogliano’s fourth-best 830 games on the all-time list and put him behind Steve Larmer (884), Garry Unger (914) and Doug Jarvis (964).

Does that mean Marleau has a shot to finish this season fourth on the list of longest consecutive games played streaks in NHL history? Not exactly. Here’s a look at the longest active streaks, including a look at the one player who stands between Marleau and the top four:

10. Claude Giroux (PHI), Ivan Provorov (PHI), Connor Brown (OTT) – 248 games
This will change after Thursday night, as the Senators are in action and the Flyers are not. That means Brown will move into sole possession of 10th spot and Giroux and Provorov will be deadlocked in 11th. Currently, though, all three are even at 248 games with streaks that began days apart. Brown, then with the Toronto Maple Leafs, started his streak on Oct. 12, 2016, while the Flyers’ duo began their runs on Oct. 14, 2016.

9. Tyler Seguin (DAL) – 250 games
Just as Brown will move ahead of Giroux and Provorov on Thursday, Seguin finds himself alone in ninth spot only because the Stars’ season has started with a handful of early games. He’s played in every regular season contest since Oct. 13, 2016. That’s a streak that began after he returned from an Achilles injury that cost him the end of the 2015-16 campaign and Dallas’ entire post-season run that season.

8. Adam Henrique (ANA) – 300 games
The first player on the countdown whose streak doesn’t coincide with the start of the 2016-17 campaign. Rather, Henrique’s began on Dec. 15, 2015, when he returned from a lower-body injury that had sidelined him for two games. At the time, he was part of the New Jersey Devils, but he carried the streak over to Anaheim. Interesting to note, however, that the trade that saw him land with the Ducks resulted in him playing only 81 games during the 2017-18 season.

7. Jaccon Slavin (CAR) – 307 games
In a sense, Slavin forced his way onto this list. He wasn’t really in the Hurricanes’ plans at the start of the 2015-16 season, but his play in the AHL earned him a pair of early recalls from the minors and after his second trip up to the big club, he never went back down to the Charlotte Checkers. Since Dec. 5, 2015, Slavin has appeared in every single Hurricanes game.

6. Dmitry Orlov (WSH) – 350 games
There was a point where Orlov, who began his streak on March 8, 2014, came close to starting the 2016-17 season without a contract as a restricted free agent. He didn’t sign a one-year deal until Sept. 21, 2016. But the truth is that failing to sign wouldn’t have broken up his streak despite the fact his rights were owned by a team. Case in point: by the NHL’s count, William Nylander’s consecutive games played streak is 201 games, his time missed during a contract impasse with the Maple Leafs not taken into account.

5. Drew Doughty (LA) – 413 games
Given the edge Doughty has to his game, it’s somewhat surprising he hasn’t picked up a knock here or there that has stopped his games played streak, which dates back to Oct. 8, 2014. It’s also surprising he hasn’t stepped over the line and seen his streak end in the same fashion as Cogliano’s, whose two-game ban halted an 830-game run. Of course, Doughty was suspended once, but the one game he sat out came during the playoffs.

4. Brent Burns (SJ) – 475 games
Burns gets praise for plenty of things, but his longevity is worth applauding. Since some injury trouble that cost him chunks of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 campaigns, Burns hasn’t missed a single outing. His run dates back to Nov. 21, 2013, and he can become one of 18 players in NHL history with a 550-game streak if he remains healthy for the duration of the 2019-20 season.

3. Phil Kessel (ARI) – 776 games
The 300-game chasm between Kessel and Burns speaks volumes about the achievement that is a nearly 800-game ironman streak. And this November will mark an important moment in Kessel’s games-played streak. In less than one month, on Nov. 3, 2019, Kessel will celebrate a decade without missing an NHL contest. If he skates in every game this season, he’ll move to 856 consecutive games played and given his age (32) and the two additional seasons remaining on his contract, he has a legitimate shot at becoming the first player to skate in 1,000 consecutive games.

2. Patrick Marleau (SJ) – 788 games
As of Wednesday, Marleau wasn’t on the list, but his return to active status means he’s back in the second spot and ready to move on up.

1. Keith Yandle (FLA) –��800 games
Maybe it wasn’t feted around the league the way it should have been, but Yandle’s participation in the Panthers’ Tuesday’s outing against the Hurricanes made him one of only five players in NHL history to skate in 800 consecutive games. Not since March 26, 2009, has he missed a contest. He came close, of course. It made headlines when Yandle was reportedly set to miss a December 2016, but slotted into the lineup at the last minute to keep the streak alive. Because of that, Yandle, like Kessel, has a shot at continuing to climb the list.

If he plays in every game this season, Yandle will move into fourth all-time with 879 games played. And at 33 and with three seasons remaining on his deal after the current campaign, there’s a legitimate chance Yandle could topple Jarvis’ 964-game record and beat out Kessel to become the first to 1,000 games in a row.

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