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How training helped Marleau take aim at Gordie Howe's record

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Patrick Marleau began his 23rd NHL season this week, and the Sharks icon didn't get to this point by accident or luck.

The 41-year-old has put in the work, and he's on the brink of breaking Gordie Howe's record for most career games played.

If Marleau, who returned to the Sharks for a third tour of duty this offseason, stays healthy and plays in every game, he would pass Howe on April 19 in San Jose's road game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

In order to make it this far, Marleau credits a rigorous training program aided by Sharks' strength and conditioning coach Mike Potenza.

"You don't get to play this many games without a huge support cast," Marleau told NBC Sports California. "Obviously, my family is huge. Training staff here in San Jose has been huge for me for so long. And even the other clubs I went to, the training staffs there and all over the league, they're really good. But when you're with a group for a numerous amount of years, you get to know each other, you get to know what makes everybody tick and how to get the most out of each other."

Potenza pointed a spotlight at Marleau's dedication to his craft.

"Patty has been a student of training," Potenza told NBC Sports California. "He's invested a lot in training. I believe that he does believe that 'OK, this physical investment I have in my body,' like he has some gifts, he's very humble about those gifts he has, obviously, but he wants to keep them going, he wants to maintain them, he wants to refine and polish them throughout his career. That's one of the reasons we've clicked so well."

 
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Marleau's training work with Potenza is the focus of the third feature of NBC Sports Bay Area's "HEADSTRONG 2.0" series, a month-long initiative spotlighting men's health issues that will take place throughout January.

Learn more about his story in the video above.