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NHL: Most appearances of all time

Veteran Eric Staal returned to the NHL this season by signing a one-year contract with the Florida Panthers and he recently appeared in his 1,329th NHL regular season game, the most amassed by an active player.

Amazingly that only places him 57th in the all-time NHL appearances list, and at 38 years old he has no chance of catching those in the top five whose durability can only be marvelled at.

Patrick Marleau (1,779 appearances, 1997-2021)

Canadian center Patrick Marleau spent 23 seasons in the NHL working his way to breaking Gordie Howe's long-standing appearances record in April 2021, at the age of 41.

In his 1,779 NHL regular season games with San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins, Marleau scored 1,197 points (566 goals, 631 assists).

The majority of his career was spent in San Jose, where he is the all-time leader in points, goals and games played, who drafted him second overall in 1997.

Marleau is one of just five NHL players to play 1,400 games with one team, and the youngest to reach that milestone.

Frustratingly he was never able to win the Stanley Cup, but did make a Final appearance in 2016 when the Sharks were beaten in six games by the Penguins.

Gordie Howe (1,767 appearances, 1946-1980)

'Mr Hockey' Gordie Howe held the NHL record for most regular season appearances between 1961 and 2021 before he was surpassed by Marleau.

The winger was the first player to reach 1,000 games and in his total of 1,767 scored 1,850 points (801 goals, 1,049 assists).

Howe continues to hold the NHL record for most seasons played, spending 25 of 26 campaigns with the Detroit Red Wings where he won the Stanley Cup four times between 1950 and 1955.

He is the oldest player to ever play in an NHL game, retiring at 52 with six Hart Memorial Trophies as the NHL's most valuable player to his name, plus six Art Ross awards as the league's leading point-scorer.

Mark Messier (1,756 appearances, 1979-2004)

Long-time Captain of the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks, Mark Messier amassed 1,887 points (694 goals, 1,193 assists) over a 25-year NHL career which ranks third all-time.

During that time, he led the Oilers to five Stanley Cups between 1983 and 1990 and played a crucial role in ending New York Rangers' 54-year Stanley Cup drought, becoming the only player to captain two teams to the championship in 1994.

Messier was a 15-time NHL All-Star, named most valuable player in the league in 1990 and 1992 and won the Conn Smythe as the most valuable player in the playoffs in 1984.

In 2007, the imposing center was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, in his first year of eligibility.

Jaromir Jagr (1,733 appearances, 1990-2018)

The commitment of Jaromir Jagr to the game of hockey is undoubted as after 24 seasons in the NHL and 1,733 regular season games, he continues to play on in his home country with the team he owns Rytíri Kladno at the age of 50.

Jagr amassed 1,921 points (766 goals, 1,155 assists) during his long NHL career which sits second behind just the 'Great one' Wayne Gretzky.

A five-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top point producer, Jagr won the Stanley Cup twice as a Pittsburgh Penguin in 1991 and 1992.

After leaving the Penguins, who drafted him with the fifth overall draft pick in 1990, Jagr went on to be a star for the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers before moving around several teams to end his time in the NHL.

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Ron Francis (1,731 appearances, 1981-2004)

Center Ron Francis was a model of consistency in the NHL, producing 1,798 points (549 goals, 1,249 assists) in his 1,731 regular season games which mainly came with the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes, who were created via the re-location of Hartford in 1997.

A fourth overall pick of the Whalers in 1981, Francis held the captaincy throughout his NHL career and led the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cups with the aforementioned Jagr in 1991 and 1992.

Later in his career, Francis captained the Hurricanes to a surprise appearance in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals and still ranks first all-time in Whalers/Hurricanes history in points, goals, assists and games played.

Recently retired

Forward Joe Thornton (1,714 games) and defenseman Zdeno Chara (1,680) sit sixth and seventh on the all-time appearances list and are the most recent players of the top ten to play in the NHL, with both retiring in 2022.

Thornton amassed an impressive 1,539 points (430 goals, 1,109 assists) mainly with the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks, while 6'9" Chara has 680 points (209 assists, 471 assists), mostly as Captain of the Bruins, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2011.

The Bruins are +550 to win the Stanley Cup this season, which would be their first since Chara led them to it in 2011.

The Maple Leafs are +750 to end their record 55-year-long Stanley Cup drought, which even Marleau and Thornton weren't able to help them overcome when spending a short time with the famous franchise later on in their careers.

The New York Rangers are +1700 to be crowned champions and that would be their first title since Messier was able to lead them to glory in 1994.

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