SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — No player in San Jose Sharks history is more beloved by fans than Joe Thornton. On Friday, the team reached an agreement to bring the 21-year veteran back for one more season.
In announcing the deal, General Manager Doug Wilson left little doubt about the depth of the love affair Sharks fans have with Thornton.
“Words cannot equate the impact that Joe has had on this franchise since his arrival in San Jose in 2005,” said Wilson. “Joe is a generational player who seemingly blazes past an existing Hall-of-Famer with each game he plays.
Last season, Thornton registered 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists) in 73 games, finishing seventh on the Sharks in assists, eighth in points and tied for fourth in game-winning goals.
After missing nine of the first 11 games of the season, Thornton skated in all 71 remaining contests and reached several milestones on the NHL’s all-time scoring lists.
Entering the 2018-19 season, Joe Thornton ranked 21st in all-time games played, 12th in assists and 16th in points. By the end of the season, Thornton climbed to 12th in all-time games played (1,566), eighth in all-time assists (1,065) and 14th in points (1,478), passing several Hall-of-Famers including Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Marcel Dionne, Teemu Selanne, and Gordie Howe.
“His leadership and dedication to the organization and his teammates is inspiring,” Wilson said. “He has the rare ability to make the players around him better and we’re excited to see him healthy and back wearing the Sharks crest.”
On Nov. 8, 2018 at Dallas, Thornton skated in his 1,500th NHL game, passing Mike Modano for sole possession of 19th on the NHL’s all-time games played list. With the achievement, Thornton became the first player in NHL history selected first overall in an NHL Draft to appear in 1,500 career games.
A few nights later, Thornton recorded the game-winning goal for his 400th career NHL goal. He became just the seventh player in NHL history to skate in 1,500 games, collect 1,000 assists and score 400 goals. Five of the six other players are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Acquired by San Jose from Boston on Nov. 30, 2005, Thornton has 780 assists and 1,024 points in 1034 games with the Sharks. During that span, no NHL player has more assists than Thornton and his 1,024 points with San Jose ranks third amongst all NHL players since the trade.
In 2006-07, Thornton became only the third player in NHL history to have back-to-back 90-plus assist seasons (96 in 2005-06, 92 in 2006-07), joining only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
Thornton led the NHL in assists in 2005-06 (96), 2006-07 (92), and 2007-08 (67). He became just the fourth player in NHL history to lead the League in assists for three consecutive seasons, joining Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, and Stan Mikita (Henrik Sedin has since joined this list in 2011-12).
Thornton was named the winner of both the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy in 2006, the season he was acquired by San Jose. He been selected to six NHL All-Star Games (2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009), and was named an NHL First All-Star Team in 2006, and an NHL Second All-Star Team in 2003, 2008 and 2016.
Internationally, Thornton has represented his native Canada on numerous occasions, including winning gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics