Joe Thornton surprised many Sharks fans when after 15 seasons in San Jose, he elected to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a one-year contract.
TSN NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun joined Toronto’s OverDrive 1050, and spoke about how Thornton is handling his departure from San Jose after a decade and a half in the Bay Area.
“He’s really excited, I mean I think this means so much for his family and his parents,” LeBrun said. “Not an easy decision for him either, San Jose means so much to him. Those have been tough phone calls for him today, I know he was calling Sharks captain Logan Couture and a few other teammates to let them know about his decision before they heard it from the news release. I think he also called Sharks GM Doug Wilson, classy to the end of course.”
Thornton became a franchise icon and fan favorite during his time with the Sharks, winning San Jose over with his effervescent personality and impressive play on the ice.
The veteran is the Sharks’ all-time franchise leader in assists and plus/minus, and has played the second-most games in team history behind Patrick Marleau.
Thornton’s leadership would have been helpful for a young Sharks team trying to bounce back from a dismal 2019-20 season, but Toronto potentially will be a stronger contender for a Stanley Cup, which the 41-year-old likely covets before he hangs up his skates.
Sharks fans at least can take solace in Thornton’s commitment to class as he moves on, and his No. 19 almost certainly will be hanging in the rafters at SAP Center in the coming years.