The San Jose Sharks are preparing for another deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs this season and they added some reinforcements on Friday. The team announced this morning that they have agreed to a one-year contract with veteran center Joe Thornton. According to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic and TSN, the deal is worth $2 million straight up with no bonuses.
“Jumbo” Joe is Far from Done in the NHL
The 40-year-old center proved he still had plenty left in the tank last season as he scored 16 goals and 51 points in 73 regular-season games. He had four goals and 10 points during the Sharks run to the Western Conference Finals.
“Words cannot equate the impact that Joe has had on this franchise since his arrival in San Jose in 2005,” general manager Doug Wilson said in an official statement. “Joe is a generational player who seemingly blazes past an existing Hall-of-Famer with each game he plays. His leadership and dedication to the organization and his teammates is inspiring. He has the rare ability to make the players around him better and we’re excited to see him healthy and back wearing the Sharks crest.”
A Stanley Cup is the only thing not on Thornton’s Hall of Fame resume. The Sharks were two wins shy of returning to the Stanley Cup Final before being ousted by the St. Louis Blues.
His Numbers Speak for Themselves
Thornton was originally drafted first overall by the Boston Bruins in 1997. He was traded to the Sharks on Nov. 30, 2005, for Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau. He went on to score 20 goals and 92 points in 58 games for the Sharks on his way to winning both the Hart and Art Ross Trophy.
The following season he joined Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux as the only players in league history to have back-to-back seasons with at least 90 assists. In 2007-08, he became just the fourth player to lead the NHL in assists, joining Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Stan Mikita.
Last season, Thornton became just the 20th player to ever play in 1,500 NHL games. He is up the 12th all-time with 1,566 games played and could climb into the top 10 if he stays healthy this season. He is eighth in NHL history with 1,065 assists and 14th with 1,478 points. He is one of only seven players to ever play in 1,500 games, score 400 goals and pick up 1,000 assists.
Since Thornton joined the NHL in 1997, nobody has more assists and points. He leads all active players in assists and points and is seventh in goals scored. He has shown up during the postseason as well. In 179 career Stanley Cup playoff games, he has 31 goals and 133 points. He is one of only 24 players to have 100 playoff assists.
Thornton and Patrick Marleau are the only two players in Sharks franchise history to play in 1,000 games and score 1,000 points. He has the most assists in team history as well as the highest points per game average and plus-minus rating. He is second in points and games played and third in goals scored.
He has played in six NHL All-Star Games in his career and has also represented Canada on the international stage. He won a Gold Medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as well as winning the World Cup of Hockey in 2004 and 2016. Before he broke into the NHL, he helped Canada to a Gold Medal at the 1997 World Junior Championships.
There is no doubt that Thornton is a first-ballot Hall of Famer after he hangs it up. Will he get the chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup before he calls it a career? We shall see.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.