SUNRISE, Fla. — “They’re back.”
Joe Thornton is pleased that the San Jose Sharks, out of the playoffs for the last two years, are playing competitive hockey once again. The Sharks are currently tied for the last Wild Card spot in the West.
“With Logan and Tommy Hertl and Burnzie and Erik, they got a good group there to build off of,” Thornton said this afternoon, on the eve of his first game versus the Sharks since he left San Jose two off-seasons ago. “Good to see the guys winning again, back to themselves.”
Who isn’t helping the Sharks now? Evander Kane, who was exiled from the Sharks this past summer and is about to make his Edmonton Oilers debut tonight. Thornton famously picked up Kane from the airport when the Sharks traded for him in Mar. 2018.
In a recent TSN interview, Kane cited Joe Thornton as someone who checked in on him after the San Jose Sharks terminated his contract three weeks ago.
“I try to keep in touch with a lot of my ex-teammates. Just to make sure they’re doing good. They’re in the right spot,” Thornton said about that phone call. “I just like talking. And you know, he’s a good talker. I’m a good listener. So it kind of goes good together.”
Thornton didn’t elaborate further on this exchange or share his thoughts about the Sharks parting with Kane.
Meanwhile, it’s also a much different situation for the 42-year-old with the Eastern Conference-leading Panthers. Gone are the days of Jumbo roaming the ice for 20 minutes a night, averaging a point or more per game. Thornton has even been an occasional healthy scratch this year.
“When I talked to [Panthers GM] Bill Zito in the summer, it was like alright, I want to join this crew. I don’t mind not playing every night,” Thornton said with his trademark smile. “It’s been a lot of fun. The guys are really enjoyable to watch.”
Certainly, if Joe Thornton comes away with his first Stanley Cup, it’ll be well worth it.
Thornton, on how special it would be to score 4 goals tonight: "I actually went out with Timo last night, him with 5. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves with four."
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 29, 2022
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