Former Leafs forward Joe Thornton has retired from the NHL
Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
A Leafs legend has made an announcement that his hockey career has officially come to an end.
Joe Thornton is calling it quits after a 24-year career split between four different teams. The 1997 first-overall pick last played in the NHL during the 2021-22 season with his final game coming on May 23, 2022.
Thornton spent the first seven years of his career with the Boston Bruins where he worked his way up to becoming one of the premier players in the league, even after recording a measly seven points in 55 games during his rookie campaign.
He eventually became the team captain but his relationship with the Bruins was strained following a disastrous 2004 Playoffs where he went pointless in seven games and lost to the seventh-seeded Montreal Canadiens. This culminated in a blockbuster trade partway through the 2005-06 season where he was sent to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm, and Wayne Primeau. That campaign would ultimately be the best of his career as he would go on to record a league-leading 125 points and secure his only Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy.
Thornton would spend the majority of his career donning the teal and black where he always remained a lethal passer and a key component of a Sharks team that only missed the playoffs thrice in 15 years with the team. While San Jose was always a contender throughout his tenure, they were also perennial playoff chokers who continued to find creative ways to prematurely end their season. Their best shot came in 2016 when they were two wins short of hoisting the Stanley Cup before ultimately bowing out in the Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
His time with the Sharks came to an end in 2020 when he decided to return home and play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. His lone season in the Blue and White took place during the COVID-shortened year where he recorded 20 points (five goals and 10 assists) in 55 games as a fourth-line centre. He also added a goal in seven playoff games that spring but he was part of a team that blew a 3-1 series lead to the Canadiens in the first round.
He finished his career with the Flordia Panthers where his usage was greatly reduced given he was 42 years old. Thornton only got put into game action in that May 23 contest mentioned earlier which was the night his team got swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The four-time All-Star finished his career 12th all-time in scoring, seventh all-time in assists, and sixth all-time in games played. Altogether, he recorded 1539 points (430 goals and 1109 assists) in 1714 games while adding 134 points (32 goals and 102 assists( in 187 playoff games. Although he ultimately did not capture the Stanley Cup, he did win the gold medal with Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics, won gold at the 1997 World Junior Championship, and was a two-time winner at the World Cup of Hockey.
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