SAN JOSE -- Joe Thornton has a no movement clause in his Sharks contract but made it crystal clear last week he was willing to waive it for a chance to win his first Stanley Cup. That won’t happen here in San Jose, where a miserable season mercifully is winding down.
General manager Doug Wilson shipped three players to playoff contenders. Patrick Marleau was in that group, now gunning for a championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Thornton was not. Jumbo's still rocking teal.
The 40-year old future Hall-of-Famer expressed disappointment in that outcome the following day, but the sentiment didn’t last long.
Thornton’s already back to his jovial self, with no lingering grief that might impact play as the Sharks play out the string starting Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils.
“That’s one guy I never worry about,” Sharks interim head coach Bob Boughner said Wednesday after Sharks morning skate. “I said it would’ve been nice to find the right situation and the right opportunity. He was very public with his comments about that. We support that as well and would’ve liked to see someone who has given so much to the game be rewarded.
“But, the very next day, and even today we had a conversation about it, and he said all that’s over with now and let’s get back to work. We’re all doing something we love to do. There’s no better example of that mindset than Jumbo. He always has a smile from ear to ear and loves coming to the rink every day. That’s never going to be an issue with him.”
Captain Logan Couture’s a bit torn over seeing Thornton still with the Sharks, but ultimately happy to have his friend help lead this team down the stretch.
“We’re fortunate to have him,” Couture said. “I do wish I was going to be watching him playing in a couple weeks, still on the ice with a chance to win the Stanley Cup, just because he deserves it. He’s such a great competitor and such a great guy. But I am happy he’s here, though, I wish we were headed to the playoffs.
"Unfortunately, that’s not the way it is.”
Thornton has said this won’t be his last hurrah, though his Sharks tenure might be ending soon. He’s set for unrestricted free agency after the season, with an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup atop the priority list.
That seems unlikely for a Sharks team with several upgrades and additions needed to find previous form.
The fact Thornton wants to keep playing isn't surprising to those who see him work every day.
“I’m not shocked,” Couture said. “He’s going to be 41 in July but he still has some game left. Some of these games lately, he has been one of our best players and led our team, through all the injuries, to compete in these games. He still has great hockey in him. He sees the ice as well as anyone as has life in his legs.
"It’s pretty remarkable.”