Joe Thornton to play in Switzerland while mulling next NHL step


If Joe Thornton continues his NHL career, it will come after an international pit stop.

The former Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks star, who is currently a free agent, has signed with HC Davos of the Swiss National League, the club announced Thursday.

Thornton has a close connection to HC Davos: He met his wife while playing for the team during 2004-05 NHL lockout and played for HC Davos again in 2012-13. The 41-year-old has a Swiss passport and has been training with HC Davos since July, according to the team.

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Here's Thornton (bereft of his trademark beard) announcing his return to the Swiss club:

"It will be a lot of fun to play for HC Davos again in the championship," Thornton said in a statement. "The boys and I have been training together all summer and I am very happy to be fighting serious battles for the HCD again."

Thornton's deal allows him to return to the NHL if he wishes, and the veteran forward has expressed interest in coming back for a 23rd season.

Thornton has spent the last 15 NHL seasons with the Sharks after eight years in Boston and has played in 1,636 games, second behind only Patrick Marleau among active NHL players.