With the regular season on the horizon, the San Jose Sharks finally announced the return of one of the organization's most beloved players Friday when Joe Thornton officially agreed to a one-year contract with the team. Thornton will be playing in his 22nd season in the NHL and 15th with the Sharks.
"Well, I thought I could skip some fitness testing," Thornton told NBC Sports California's Curtis Brown. "There was no hurry on my end, no hurry on Doug's end, it was gonna get done at some point.
"I just wanted to make sure Doug was done wheeling and dealing, and what a summer the Sharks had. But I'm happy to be back."
After the departure of former captain Joe Pavelski in the offseason, the Sharks were in need of Thornton's veteran leadership as they look to make another run at the Stanley Cup.
Now that he's locked in for the 2019-20 season, Thornton has a very simple motivation for continuing to lace up his skates with his 40th birthday now in the rear-view mirror.
"We still gotta win a Stanley Cup here, so that's the reason I'm coming back," Thornton said. "I want this city to feel what that is gonna feel like."
"I love the game, I love competing, I love the fellowship with the guys, yeah I love the sport."
Thornton's passion for hockey has been evident throughout his career, as he now has played the second-most games of any active NHL player behind former Sharks forward Patrick Marleau.
Look out for Thornton and the Sharks when they take the ice to open the 2019-20 preseason Sept. 17 at the SAP Center against the Anaheim Ducks.
Joe Thornton excited about returning to Sharks for 15th season in San Jose originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area