Joe Thornton dodged the question as if I were a defenseman trying to contain him behind the net on the power play.
“Joe, what’s the future hold for you?”
Thornton, 43, has spent most of his season with the San Jose Sharks, not on the ice, but with the front office. He doesn’t have an official title and hasn’t officially retired, though his last action was last May with the Florida Panthers.
Whatever Jumbo does in the future, it’s ice-shattering news for the hockey world. Retire after a 24-year, first-ballot Hall of Fame career? Take a job with the Sharks front office?
“Playing in the alumni game tonight, so I’m looking forward to it,” Thornton said before the game, flashing his trademark smile.
He then turned to leave the media scrum, “Then I’m gonna go home with my kids.”
Well, I can’t say he didn’t answer the question.
So the San Jose Sharks legend’s long-term future continues to be a mystery.
Not such a mystery? Jumbo’s love for Patty, a friendship that started when they were teenagers.
“Me and Patty actually met when we were 17. I don’t think he was even 17 yet, he was probably 16, just this big farm boy. And he was just as big like he is now, he hasn’t changed really at all,” Thornton recalled. “But we hit it off right away.”
Thornton was selected first-overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1997 NHL Draft, followed by Marleau second-overall by the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks traded for Thornton in Nov. 2005, and the two were teammates until Apr. 2017, and once again for most of the 2019-20 season.
“One of the best teammates you could ever have,” Thornton gushed, “just one of the best friends you could ever have.”
There’s a reason why, when you think of the San Jose Sharks, you can’t separate Jumbo from Patty, and Patty from Jumbo.
“Patty was here way before me, but I think we created something here that was special. It was a hard place to play in,” Thornton said. “I think we’re both proud of that.”
And hey, even if Thornton wasn’t talking about it today, maybe he and Marleau will be reuniting soon after tonight’s Legends Game?
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