What’s next for Jumbo?
On Saturday, Joe Thornton officially announced his retirement from the NHL.
That closed the curtain on a spectacular 24-year career, 15 seasons spent with the San Jose Sharks. Thornton scored 1,055 of his career 1,539 points in teal, his time in San Jose highlighted by winning the 2006 Hart Trophy and leading the franchise to their first and only Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2016.
“Being able to call Jumbo a friend and a teammate has been an honor. The game is better because he brought so much life to it,” Patrick Marleau, who played from 2005 to 2017 and from 2019 to 2020 with Thornton, said about his friend’s retirement. “It’s going to be exciting to see what he does next, because Jumbo is never idle.”
Since Thornton’s last NHL game, with the Florida Panthers, in May 2022, he’s been all over the place, especially in San Jose, where he still has a home. He’s a regular at Sharks Ice, watching and coaching his hockey-playing kids, and at Tech CU Arena and SAP Center, sitting with Sharks management.
So finally joining the San Jose Sharks front office in an official capacity would make some sense.
The door is open to that.
“He does always have positive energy to him. Whenever he’s done, and [Patrick Marleau is] done, they’re definitely people I’d like to have around the organization,” San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier said last summer. “They know so much about the game. The young players in this dressing room, they respect those guys immensely. It’s always nice to have another set of eyes, to pick their brain about what they see about players, in the game in general.”
Marleau, of course, just re-joined the organization as a development coach. Could Thornton be the next Sharks legend to come back into the fold?
“That ain’t happening,” head coach David Quinn said, laughing, referring to a conversation that he had with Thornton over golf during the summer.
Thornton seems to want to be around the San Jose Sharks, but on his own terms.
And that’s just fine with Grier, who has all the respect in the world for his ex-teammate. He’ll wait.
“Jumbo was one of the greatest players of his generation and his love of the game was remarkable. His ability to pass the puck is up there with the best players of all time,” Grier said yesterday. “But as just importantly, he is one of the most caring and generous people I know, always taking care of his teammates and friends. It was an honor to play alongside him for three years.”
But one thing we can count on about Thornton’s future with the San Jose Sharks? His No. 19 will join Marleau’s No. 12 in the SAP Center rafters, the only question is when.
“Joe is undoubtedly one the greatest players in NHL history and we congratulate and thank him for 15 wonderful seasons of Sharks hockey,” Sharks president Jonathan Becher said. “We will be in touch with Joe and his wife, Tabea, about properly recognizing his contributions and legacy in San Jose.”
So maybe next year? You want to do an event like this right, and that takes time.
Then what’s next for Jumbo?
Well, a shirtless Thornton, not looking too far ahead, as usual, told us in his retirement announcement: “If you’re looking for me, you know where to find me, I’ll be at the rink.”
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