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Will Toronto be Joe Thornton's Next Destination?


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3. Boy, it was tough reading those Joe Thornton quotes on Tuesday.


?It would have been nice to at least have a chance,? he told reporters in Philadelphia. ?I wanted a shot, you know? Believe it or not. I?ve been hunting this thing down for 22 years, so I wanted another shot at it?. Back to the grind, and that?s how it is.?


Sharks GM Doug Wilson made it clear that interested parties had to be legit Stanley Cup contenders to make the pitch. I heard Boston never went far down the road, and the Dallas interest wasn?t huge. Thornton?s hilarious personality obscures his burning pride/desire, but don?t kid yourself ? it?s there.


San Jose?s plan is to return to contention in 2020-21, and the big question is if Jumbo Joe believes the Sharks can do it. If he doesn?t, he?s going to have to consider breaking his comfort zone. Patrick Marleau?s speed makes him an easier fit for a mid-season switch. Thornton?s gifts ? his intelligence and skill ? are harder to translate at this time of year, but I do think there are teams who would be willing to make it work if he started the season with them.


4. If Thornton is not sold on the Sharks, and he?s willing to seek out new life (boldly go where no one has gone before), my prediction is Toronto will be a factor. I can?t confirm this, but I believe the Maple Leafs considered adding him now. Two things stopped it: 1) their decision not to make short-term fixes after the Carolina loss, and 2) are they really a legit contender if they have to go through Boston or Tampa Bay or both? When GM Kyle Dubas said he wanted to see how his group would respond to its tough stretch, he meant it. Thornton would have eased the tension right now, but the organization wants to see how everyone top to bottom reacts and performs. Next season is a different story.


5. Thornton?s made it clear he will make his salary fit. He?s a left-hand shot who could feed Auston Matthews/John Tavares from his strong side. (They have spent plenty of time with Zach Hyman and William Nylander on their weak sides, although both have had strong seasons.) There?s the Greyhound connection. People forget, too, that Thornton?s been through the ringer. The first playoff series I covered for Hockey Night in Canada was Boston/Montreal 2004, where the Canadiens came back from 3?1 down to win. Thornton came under huge criticism with articles demanding he be stripped of his captaincy. He survived and will walk into the Hall of Fame. Good message for Toronto?s young core. Anyway, something to chew on.



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