Joe Thornton was spotted warming up with the San Jose rookie squad ahead of their matchup with the Colorado Avalanche. Although he took the ice with the Sharks rookie talent, there is no indication of whether or not Thornton will rejoin the team for the 2022-23 season. After spending last season with the Florida Panthers in his 24th NHL season, it is still unclear if Thornton will return for a 25th.
Thornton, or as many call him, Jumbo, spent 15 seasons as a San Jose Shark, 4 of those seasons as the team’s captain. There is no question that Joe Thornton was an exceptional talent for San Jose, and ranks among the team’s all time best hockey players. He is the runner up in all time points with the franchise with 1055, second to only Patrick Marleau. During his time in San Jose, Thornton won the Hart trophy as the league’s most valuable player as well as the Art Ross trophy as the league’s leading point scorer. Thornton is the only San Jose Shark to win either of those awards, which shows just how valuable he has been to the franchise.
Jumbo Joe Thornton will no question end up in the Hall of Fame when his illustrious career comes to an end. He will go down as being one of the smartest on ice players as well as being one of game’s greatest all time passers. Thornton ranks 7th on the list of the NHL’s all time assist leaders ahead of players such as Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, and Steve Yzerman. Being mentioned in the same conversation as these hockey legends is an accomplishment in of itself, and to be ahead of them in a major category like assists just goes to show the greatness of Thornton.
If Joe Thornton does indeed wish to return for a 25th NHL season, the San Jose Sharks could definitely use his help. His veteran presence and deep hockey knowledge could be extremely useful when it comes to the development of some of the Sharks’ younger talents. Last season, Thornton contributed 5 goals and 5 assists in 34 games with the Florida Panthers in 34 games. Although these numbers are far from what Thornton was able to put up in his younger days, it isn’t his offensive output that interests teams. It is his extensive experience playing in the league and the valuable understanding of the game that he brings with him.
Something that may keep Jumbo Joe Thornton from signing a one-year deal in San Jose is the fact that the team may not be contending for a Stanley Cup this season. Thornton has been chasing a Stanley Cup his entire career and at this stage in his career he will definitely be more inclined to sign with a contender in the hopes of finally winning it all.
No doubt Sharks fans would be absolutely ecstatic if Joe Thornton were to strike a deal with San Jose. His long and storied history with the Sharks makes him a fan favorite in San Jose. Thornton is a huge reason as to why the Sharks were so competitive and in the playoff mix for so many years. Regardless of whether or not Joe Thornton returns to the Sharks for another season of hockey, Jumbo stands as a San Jose all time great and huge piece of the franchise’s history.