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May 2019
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Sharks’ Joe Thornton, still chasing milestones at age 39



Joe Thornton 2016 photo By mark6mauno, CC BY-SA 2.0, https

One of the greatest playmakers in League history returns to the Sharks lineup for his 21st NHL season



Sharks center Joe Thornton, one of the greatest playmakers in League history, returns to the San Jose lineup for his 21st NHL season and enters the 2018-19 campaign within reach of several career benchmarks.

The 39-year-old Thornton, who re-signed with San Jose on July 2, is three shy of 400 career goals, three assists from tying Mario Lemieux for 11th place on the League’s all-time list and seven outings from the 1,500th game of his NHL career.

In his first 20 NHL seasons, Thornton has registered 397-1,030—1,427, placing him among the top 20 in League history for both assists (12th) and points (16th). The London, Ont., native is on track to become the 19th player to appear in 1,500 career regular-season games.

* Thornton would become the 11th player in NHL history to collect at least 400 career goals and 1,000 career assists. Every player who has achieved the feat – other than Jaromir Jagr, who is not yet eligible – has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.


* Known for his on-ice vision, Thornton has recorded 57 career games with three or more assists, trailing only 11 players for the most such outings in NHL history. His 230 career multi-assist games rank 11th all-time.



* Thornton is one of four players expected to suit up for his 21st NHL campaign in 2018-19, a feat achieved by only 37 players in history entering this season. The others playing their 21st NHL season in 2018-19: Patrick Marleau (TOR), Matt Cullen (PIT) and Zdeno Chara (BOS).

After his second season with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Thornton was selected first overall by the Bruins in the 1997 NHL Draft – one pick ahead of future teammate Patrick Marleau, who was chosen by the Sharks at No. 2.

* Thornton collected only seven points in 55 games during his 1997-98 rookie campaign, but quickly evolved into one of the NHL’s premier centers. He was named captain of the Bruins ahead of the 2002-03 season before eclipsing the 100-point mark for the first time later that year (36-65—101).

* Thornton would later team up with Marleau in San Jose, marking the ninth time the top two picks from the same NHL Draft played together. The 899 regular-season games in which both Thornton and Marleau skated with the Sharks is by far the highest such total in NHL history, 453 games more than Bobby Smith and Ryan Walter, the top two picks in 1978, played together with the Canadiens (446 GP).

* Thornton will become the first No. 1 overall pick in the 55-year history of the NHL Draft to reach the 1,500-game milestone. His 1,030 career assists and 1,427 career points trail only NHL legend Mario Lemieux (690-1,033—1,723) among first overall selections.


In the midst of what had been his greatest season to date, Thornton was traded to the Sharks on Nov. 30, 2005, in a blockbuster deal that sentMarco SturmWayne Primeau and Brad Stuart to the Bruins. The power forward collected 20-72—92 in his first 58 games with the Sharks – an average of 1.59 points per game – and concluded his first season in San Jose with career highs in assists (96) and points (125), capturing the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy.



* Thornton’s arrival in San Jose also led to the first (and still only) 50-goal season in franchise history. He set up 39 of Jonathan Cheechoo’s 56 goals in 2005-06 (69.6%) – including 49 scored by Cheechoo after his arrival (79.6%) – as the Sharks skated to a second-place finish in the Pacific Division, matching a then-franchise record with 44 wins.

* In 2006-07, his first full campaign with the Sharks, Thornton set franchise records for assists (92) and points (114) in a season – records that still stand. The club also reached unprecedented heights, establishing then-franchise records for wins (51) and points (107) in a season.

* Thornton has remained with the Sharks since the trade. He now is the franchise’s all-time leader in assists (745), while his 973 points and 228 goals in a San Jose uniform rank second and third, respectively, in Sharks history.