Joe Thornton will not play for the San Jose Sharks next season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that they’ve signed Thornton to a one-year, $700,000 contract.
“Jumbo” has played for the San Jose Sharks for the last 15 seasons, amassing 1,055 points in 1,104 games in teal. He’s been with San Jose since November 30, 2005, when the Sharks acquired him from Boston for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart. Thornton’s franchise marks are second only to Patrick Marleau’s 1,102 points in 1,551 games. He also won the 2006 Hart Trophy and led San Jose to four Western Conference Finals and one Stanley Cup Final.
Marleau re-joined the Sharks for a third time last week, signing an identical one-year, $700,000 contract. He hoped his long-time teammate and fellow UFA would return with him.
“We’ve had a lot of years together, that would be a comforting thing for myself and I’m sure a lot of the other guys,” Marleau said in a Zoom call last week. “Not too sure what’s he going to decide to do. But would love to be able to be on the same club with him.”
As of yesterday, it appeared that the door hadn’t been closed on Thornton returning to the Sharks. Thornton, who’s getting ready for the 2020-21 NHL season with HC Davos, told Tages-Anzeiger: “I can still go back there, it’s all open.”
But now, Thornton has decided to move on, ironically following the same path as Marleau, who left San Jose for the first time three years ago to sign with Toronto.
Thornton grew up in nearby St. Thomas, Ontario and his parents still live there.
The 41-year-old has been open recently about his desire to pursue a Stanley Cup elsewhere in his waning years. San Jose was the third-worst team in the league this season, failing to qualify for even a 24-team playoff. During February’s Trade Deadline, Thornton betrayed distraught because the Sharks were unable to deal him to a contending club.
Is Toronto that team?
While the Maple Leafs feature young stars like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander, they’ve also lost in the first or qualifying round of the playoffs in each of the last four seasons.
It also remains to be seen what number Thornton will wear with the Maple Leafs. Veteran Jason Spezza currently sports Thornton’s traditional No. 19. Perhaps Jumbo will opt for his Team Canada No. 97.
As for San Jose, it’s the end of an era for a fanbase that’s getting very used to seeing franchise stars depart. In 2017, it was Marleau. Last summer, it was Joe Pavelski. But “Jumbo” was arguably the most popular of them all.
Thornton’s departure also leaves a gaping hole up the middle on the San Jose Sharks’ third line. Fredrik Handemark has been floated as a possible replacement.
More on this story as it develops.
USNTDP coach Nick Fohr on Bordeleau’s Hockey IQ, Chmelevski’s Skating, Labanc’s Confidence
It’s Thomas Bordeleau Week here at San Jose Hockey Now!
Today, Sheng Peng joined the podcast, and we really got into detail on Bordeleau with his former USA Hockey National Team Development Program coach Nick Fohr.
Bordeleau isn’t the first San Jose Sharks prospect that Fohr has coached — the current USNTDP Associate Coach has worked with Kevin Labanc, Scott Reedy, and Sasha Chmelevski.
Here’s a select transcription from this fun, informative interview — Fohr shares Bordeleau’s greatest strengths and weaknesses, discusses Chmelevski’s flawed-but- improving skating, and reveals what Labanc’s USNTDP teammates gave him a hard time about.
Nick Fohr, on Thomas Bordeleau’s greatest strength and weakness:
In Thomas’s case, he’s a very crafty, skilled forward that competes pretty hard. That was something he really improved on in the two years with us.
He really loves to rely on this skill.
He’s a cerebral player. He really takes in the game. He reads plays well up and down the ice sheet.
That being a strength of his, one of his weaknesses, he relies on his skill too much. That was something we talked with Thomas a lot: Although you are a skilled hockey player, you are not skilled enough to make it in the NHL on skill alone. You have to develop a little more bite, a little more aggressiveness. You gotta round your game out a little bit more defensively. Commit to those things and not rely on just being a skilled player. Those players don’t make it in the NHL anymore. They don’t. They used to. At least they don’t make it for a long, extended period of time.
Fohr, on Bordeleau’s hockey IQ:
If you ask a coach or a scout or a GM, what are your three most important things? People almost always throw hockey IQ at you.
For me, with Thomas, where you really see it, when you see the intelligence, when he gets the puck on his stick, his ability to manipulate the other team, manipulate the defender. For example, on the power play, when he has the puck on his tape, the way he postures the puck, the way he holds the puck on his stick, the way he postures his body, will tell one story to the defender, to get the defender to move. [That] opens up the play he really wants to make.
That’s a really, really, really hard skill. It takes a lot of hockey intelligence to do that, to understand the messages you’re sending to a defender. It’s a really elite trait of his.
Fohr, on Sasha Chmelevski’s skating:
The knock on him was always his skating. He kind of skated really wide. He didn’t recover his skating very well, so his feet were always really, really wide. So people were always worried about his skating, his ability to get around the rink.
I think he’s fixed that a little bit, as I’ve seen him over the years. But he’s similar to a Bordeleau type from his ability to make plays. They actually make pretty good comparables.
Fohr, on Kevin Labanc’s Twitter handle:
By the way, he’s got one of my favorite Twitter handles out there with @Str8ToTheBanc. He had that when he was here and I remember the guys gave him a hard time about it. But I loved it.
Fohr, on if Labanc’s USNTDP teammates were jealous that Labanc has such a cool last name:
(laughs) That was probably part of it. To have the cunning to him to be able to do that, right? Kevin never lacked the confidence to pull something off like that, that’s for sure.
Make sure to listen to the entire interview: It’s well worth your time if you’re interested in the draft process for USNTDP players (6:00), which San Jose Sharks scout concentrates on the USNTDP, what Bordeleau’s game looks like (10:00), and how his father (former NHL player Sebastien Bordeleau) helped shape his game (16:00). We also compare Labanc and Bordeleau (23:30) and get a Chmelevski update from Fohr (30:00).
BREAKING: Sharks Are Talking to Conor Sheary
When free agency began on October 9th, the question was, “Who would the San Jose Sharks sign?”
After almost two weeks of relative inactivity — besides adding familiar faces Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto and losing franchise icon Joe Thornton — the question became, “What’s Doug Wilson doing?”
San Jose Hockey Now has good news for Sharks fans: Wilson is still active in free agency. So who’s he looking at — Conor Sheary, Erik Haula, or Mikael Granlund? We’ve got the scoop!
Who’s Best Option for Sharks’ Third-Line Center?
Kyle and JD put out a call for a mailbag and you responded! So much so that we had to ask for some help for your San Jose Sharks questions. We are joined by SB Nation’s Sie Morley to talk hockey, among other things. We look at reverse retro jerseys and why they are a thing, the Sharks goaltending, and if Martin Jones can bounce back (8:30). Also, who will be the third-line center (12:15) and how will San Jose Sharks fans treat Joe Thornton when they see him in blue (18:30)? Check out the podcast on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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