When Patrick Marleau and the Sharks visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, he'll be celebrating his 1,500th game with San Jose. He'll also be reunited with his dear friends.
But if you ask him, he would probably refer to them as family.
Marleau had spent the previous two seasons with the Leafs where the friendships blossomed between him, center Auston Matthews and winger Mitch Marner.
After two years in Toronto, Marleau was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, who bought out his contract, before he came back to San Jose. He doesn't have social media (lucky him), so he took to his wife Christina's Twitter to send out a heartfelt message thanking Leafs fans, the organization and specifically Matthews and Marner after the trade.
If that doesn't make you go "aww," this will do the trick.
Marner made an appearance in a Christmas photo with the Marleau family.
Our 12 yo son had a hockey game, so he wasn’t able to attend the Leafs Christmas party. We did manage to get these two @Marner93 @stephlachanceee in the pic, but couldn’t find @AM34 🙁 We’ll redo it on Xmas day for you, Auston! pic.twitter.com/ZFhxp3j4Mx— Christina Marleau (@c_marleau) December 19, 2018
Christina had a small note dedicated to Matthews, who couldn't make the adorable pose. But the Leafs star more than made up for it during his "goodbye" post on Instagram after the Marleau trade:
View this post on Instagram
Sad day today. What an honor it was to play with an unbelievable player and an even better person. Gonna miss sitting next to you in the room and seeing you every day. Thanks for welcoming me into your family and treating me like one of your own. I learned so much from you both on and off the ice and I’ll cherish your friendship and the memories we had the last two years forever. My brother for life. Love you Patty
And there's this:
There's also the time Matthews unveiled a Marleau jersey in front of the San Jose crowd last January, when he was participating in the NHL Accuracy Shooting event during the 2019 All-Star festivities.
Marner and Marleau also showed off their chemistry in an insurance commercial dedicated to creating nicknames:
We know what the game will bring, but we will also know what is going on in the back of their minds. Sometimes, those moments are bigger than the sport.