A long-ago Boston Bruins All-Star isn't ready to hang his skates up just yet.
Joe Thornton, the first overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, agreed to a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers on Friday for what will be his 24th NHL season.
Thornton, 42, spent parts of the first eight seasons of his career in Boston before he was stunningly dealt to the San Jose Sharks in November 2005, going on to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player that same season with 29 goals and 96 assists for a league-leading 125 points.
Thornton went on to spend 15 seasons in San Jose, where the Sharks advanced to one Stanley Cup Final in 2016, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Panthers will be Thornton's fourth NHL club after a one-year stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He had five goals and 15 assists for 20 points over 44 games in Toronto, the third-lowest point-per-game average of his career (0.45).
Zdeno Chara, who succeeded Thornton as Bruins captain, was the only player in the league older than Thornton last season at 44 years old. But Chara, who played for the Washington Capitals after 14 years in Boston, remains unsigned, meaning Thornton could assume the mantle as the league's resident elder.
Thornton is seventh on the NHL's all-time assists list with 1,104 and 14th in points, with 1,529.
The Panthers went 37-14-5 last season, losing to the eventual-champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs. Florida hasn't won a postseason series since 1996, one year before Thornton was drafted.