NEWARK, NJ Joe Thornton has no idea how it got here so quickly.
Ive still got young legs and a young mind. I dont know how it got here so quickly. You wake up one day, and here it is, said Thornton on Thursday.
The Sharks captain, of course, is referring to the NHL milestone of 1,000 games played, which he will reach on Friday night in Newark against the Devils. He will become the 266th NHL player to reach the mark, and 12th player to do it in a Sharks uniform.
If you asked me my first year would I ever get to 1,000 games, I would have thought just getting to 100 would be a miracle, he said. You look back and see how fast it goes. I remember the older guys saying cherish every day because it goes by so fast and really, it flies right by.
Since his NHL debut with the Bruins in 1997, after he went first overall in the draft that year, no NHL player has more points than Thornton. Hes averaged just about a point-per-game over than span, with 1,002 (306 goals, 696 assists).
Hes also been able to maintain his love and enthusiasm not just for the game itself, but being around the rink and his teammates. Its a trait that coach Todd McLellan said has helped Thornton to have a long and successful career.
Its a quality that I think is an excellent one for Jumbo to have, said the coach. The outside world, the fans and reporters, they use that against Jumbo a lot of times. But I think its what drives him its his passion and his excitement for being at the rink.
I really believe that youre either giving energy off or youre sucking it out of people, and hes giving it off all the time. His longevity speaks for itself.
The Devils plan on recognizing Thorntons milestone early in the game, while the Sharks will have a pregame ceremony on Nov. 3 when they host the Penguins.