Sharks not trading Thornton didn't factor into him leaving originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
With the Sharks well out of playoff contention as the NHL trade deadline approached, general manager Doug Wilson worked with veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau on finding a team where each could contend for a Stanley Cup. San Jose ended up dealing Marleau to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the Feb. 24 deadline passed without trading Thornton.
Thornton publicly expressed his dissatisfaction at the time about missing out on a chance at a playoff run, but during his first press conference following his signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, the 41-year-old told reporters he doesn’t hold anything against the Sharks for not moving him last season.
“I get over things pretty quick. Just didn’t happen for whatever reason,” Thornton said (h/t Bay Area News Group). “Me and Doug’s relationship has always been great, always will be great. So (this) really had nothing to do with what happened last year. Just having a chance to go to Toronto play in Toronto, have a chance to win the Stanley Cup in Toronto. It’s special.”
Wilson, for his part, also insisted there were no hard feelings between the pair. He said the Sharks simply couldn't make a deal like they did for Marleau.
“Joe and I were working on it together, but it just wasn’t a match,” Wilson told reporters virtually Sunday. “A team that matched that he wanted to go be part of or a team that needed a center man or that type of fit. So we worked together on that just as I did with Patty Marleau, and we just couldn’t get a match, it just didn’t come together.”
Thornton has played in over 1,600 career games without winning a Stanley Cup, so his frustration at the time about missing out on another chance was understandable.
Joe Thornton: “As you get older you realize you only have so many shots at this thing, and it would have been nice to have a chance. ... I wanted a shot. I’ve been hunting this thing down for 22 years.”— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) February 25, 2020
The Maple Leafs were among the 24 teams that qualified for the NHL's expanded playoff bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta to conclude the 2019-20 season, but they lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the best-of-five play-in round. But the Leafs have plenty of young talent, and with his family living near Toronto, Thornton gets the chance to be home and chase the Cup.