Joe Thornton did not play in the Sharks' final 35 regular season games after tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee in January. He didn't play in any of San Jose's 10 playoff games either, but that doesn't mean he was done dishing out assists.
Thornton picked up trade-deadline acquisition Evander Kane from the airport hours after the Sharks acquired him, injured knee and all.
“Him picking me up at the airport with a bum knee, I mean, it just shows the guys he is and the type of leader he is and how much he cares about the team having success,” Kane told The Athletic on Friday. “That’s all he cares about at this point in his career is win. We talked a lot about San Jose, there’s not really a more knowledgeable guy about the area, whether it’s on or off the ice. He’s been a big supporter of mine. He’s someone I look up to.”
The ride seemingly left a strong impression. Kane scored nine goals over the final 17 regular-season games, and added four more in the playoffs before signing a seven-year, $49 million contract extension in May.
It likely won't be the only time Thornton sets up Kane, either. After Thornton re-signed with the Sharks in July, both he and general manager Doug Wilson spoke about the possibility of the 39-year-old playing on a line with Kane.
We'll find out as soon as Sept. 14, when the Sharks open training camp ahead of the 2018-19 season.