After his 17th jaunt in the Stanley Cup Playoffs wound up to be, once again, unsuccessful, Joe Thornton wasn’t ready to make - or at least share - a decision pertaining to his playing future.
Asked if he’s thought about next season in the dressing room moments after the St. Louis Blues finished his battered San Jose Sharks in six games with a 5-1 win in the Western Conference Final, Thornton nipped any discussion about his plans for next season and beyond in the bud.
Joe Thornton asked if he’s thought about (his) future. “No,” he said. “Nope.”
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) May 22, 2019
While his skills have diminished and the dominance he used to have appears only from moment to moment, there’s no question that Thornton can still hang in the NHL. Deployed primarily outside the top six and on the Sharks’ second power play, Thornton chipped in with four goals and 10 points in 18 postseason games to add to his very respectable 0.7 points per game average throughout the regular season.
At this for 21 seasons, though, there are plenty of miles on his odometer, and no one could blame Thornton for walking away now, with just over a month before celebrating his 40th birthday. (And with over $100M in estimated career earnings).
One of the greatest offensive forces ever, Thornton ranks 14th on the all-time NHL scoring list with 1,478 points split between his time with the Boston Bruins and Sharks. And when adjusting for era, his production trails only a collection of the greatest players of all-time in Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman.
In addition, he’s played 179 career postseason games, and chipped in with 133 points.
Thornton has signed one-year contracts with the Sharks in each of the last two offseasons, and accepted a considerable pay cut with his last deal. While the Sharks are facing a critical summer with several important players reaching free agency, fitting Thornton into the salary structure for a 22nd season should not be a major challenge if both sides are eager to make it work.
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