You have to feel for Joe Thornton.
Here’s a guy who has done a lot with his career. Closing in on 1,500 career points, over 1,500 games played, Olympic Gold, World Junior Gold, World Cup of Hockey Gold. He’s just missing that Stanley Cup to finish it out.
And it’ll have to wait another year.
Thornton did not get moved on Monday at the trade deadline, a record-setting deadline it was. Especially on a team of sellers that saw Patrick Marleau and Brendan Dillon get moved…oh and Barclay Goodrow. But there didn’t seem to be enough being sent back for the Sharks to part with the 40-year-old vet. His own team, the Bruins, were mentioned a lot, but it seems the price was too big for a guy who is getting on in years and not having the most productive of seasons– which I’m sure the Sharks’ struggles overall could be a reasoning for that.
Yet, will there be another year??
Let’s face facts, Thornton will be 41 over the summer, the numbers have been in a steady decline, and he’s had some injuries that have hampered his play. While he does have name recognition, he’s not the front of the line for teams wanting to pick up a difference maker at the tail end of the season.
Talk about “veteran presence” all you want, but that’s not going to make much of a difference if he’s more a hindrance on the ice– especially in the playoffs. Any contender loves those roster spots for players who are going to make a difference in the game. It seems a lot of teams wanted Thornton as a coaching figure more than a playing figure. But it looks like no one wanted another Reg Dunlop on the team if it’s going to cost them draft picks, prospects, and other assets for a guy who is on his last legs.
Granted, Dunlop won his last game and then moved to Florida to be a coach, but that’s besides the point.
You also have to wonder if Thornton would have been okay just being along for the ride and not being a contributor to the team deep in the playoffs. There’s a lot to be said about pride and how some athletes want to be used when going for a championship. Seeing as San Jose would respect his input before getting traded, you have to think Doug Wilson gave Thornton options to mull over when it came to where he could have been dealt and the offers out there.
So it goes with Thronton not getting a chance at a Cup. It may be the last time, it may not be. The biggest thing is to see what he wants to do and how he wants to go about trying to achieve it, if at all. The Cup is a hard thing to win and Thornton knows as much. There’s plenty of questions going into the end of the year: Will there be any offers from contenders in the summer?? Will he want to settle in a place where he’s not playing a decent size role?? Will he settle for San Jose to start and try to be desirable for next year’s trade deadline??
But more importantly, are we actually witnessing the last days of Joe Thornton as a player in the NHL??