Players like Joe Thornton are few and far between in the NHL.
The 40-year-old has been a staple in the league for over two decades after being selected first overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins.
Playing in the 1,620th regular-season game of his career on Tuesday night, he collected two assists against the Calgary Flames to become just the 14th player in league history to tally 1,500 points.
A secondary assist on this silky finish by Kevin Labanc resulted in Thornton hitting the milestone.
The Sharks went on to win the game 3-1.
The NHL’s active points leader, Thornton now has two goals and 22 points in 54 games this season. He’s scored 415 regular-season goals and racked up 1,085 assists in his storied career.
That ridiculous assist total places him seventh all-time in NHL history. The next highest active player on the all-time assists list is Sidney Crosby (currently 34th with 790 helpers in 967 regular-season contests).
Personally, I find it hard to recognize the difference in Thornton’s appearance between when he scored his first NHL goal and now.
This milestone is just the latest in what has been a long and successful career for Thornton. He won the Art Ross Trophy for the 2005-06 season when he scored a league-high 125 points between his time as a Boston Bruin and San Jose Shark. After being traded to San Jose in a blockbuster deal, he racked up 92 points — 72 of them assists — in 58 games. He also deservingly won the Hart Trophy as the most valuable player that season.
Despite all of the goals, assists and trophies, Jumbo Joe has yet to win a Stanley Cup. Considering that he’s now played in 1,620 regular-season games (10th all-time) and 179 playoff games in his career, that’s pretty heartbreaking.
We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the Sharks can somehow sneak into the postseason and go on a run when their top players return from injury.
If not, let this NHL season not be Thornton’s final one.
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