It was hard to imagine Joe Thornton in another NHL sweater.
Hard to imagine that giant, bushy beard draped over another logo. Hard to imagine Thornton wearing anything other than teal for the first time in 12 years. Hard to imagine a player who, in the San Jose Sharks’ lowest moments, chose to remain in the Bay Area, living a life he rather loved. Hard to imagine that a player with 615 goals and a franchise-record 722 assists would take his talents elsewhere.
But he’s turning 38 on July 2. The temptation was there to play for Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was there from the New York Rangers. It was there from the Los Angeles Kings. “I’m not sure we ever thought we had a chance. Talked to his camp, showed a lot of interest and it didn’t work out,” said GM Rob Blake.
Maybe they didn’t have a chance. Maybe none of them did. Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks are, to paraphrase The Joker, destined to do this forever. So according to Kevin Kurz, it’s a one-year deal for Thornton, and according to Bob McKenzie, it’ll be for roughly $6.5 million.
The last four contracts that Jumbo signed were three-year terms. This wasn’t going to be another one, based on the NHL’s over-35 contract rules. Perhaps he plays another year after this, perhaps not. The bottom line is that with 50 points in 79 games last season, he’s got something left.
If nothing else, Thornton now understands his value around the league. It’s flattering to be courted. It’s good to know you’re coveted.
But in the end, how do you leave this behind?
So pumped to read I get to see this guy every morning again! Special player obviously but the best guy to be around!! pic.twitter.com/Zm89ULOwPo
So it was the Sharks. By a hair.
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