By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The NHL trade deadline came and went with Joe Thornton still in San Jose as a member of the Sharks.
There was some rumored interested — the Stars, Panthers, and even Bruins were among the teams at one point linked to Thornton during the deadline season — but a deal failed to come by Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline, leaving Jumbo in teal.
It was a definite surprise given Thornton’s age and lust for a Stanley Cup, and it came with some undeniable disappointment.
“I wanted a shot, you know?” Thornton admitted. “Believe it or not. I’ve been hunting this thing down for 22 years, so I wanted another shot at it. I wanted to get something [for the Sharks] in return. It just didn’t work out.
“I was willing to go somewhere, and try to win my first Stanley Cup. I’ve been dreaming about that ever since I can remember and it just didn’t come to fruition, for whatever reason. I wanted to get something back for the Sharks obviously to help them continue this process with young guys. It just didn’t work out.”
This is really the first time that Thornton has found himself in a position like this, too. At least in this chapter of his career.
It was just four years ago that Thornton found himself skating against the Penguins in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Even last year, the Sharks were in the Western Conference Finals against the eventual champion St. Louis Blues. But this year, the Sharks truly bottomed out in the West, and were obvious sellers. That sell-mode saw Brenden Dillon moved to Washington, Patrick Marleau traded to Pittsburgh, and even Barclay Goodrow moved to Tampa Bay. But Thornton remained stuck.
Given the other pieces that moved, it’s hard to imagine teams not having any interest in adding Thornton, who even at 40 remains a solid secondary scoring threat as a dish-man, with four goals and 27 points in 62 games leading up to the trade deadline. There’s also Thornton’s ridiculously affordable contract, which saw him sign for $2 million this past offseason.
But the offers — from legit Cup contenders, anyway — never came.
“Obviously, the [interested] teams went in a different direction,” said Thornton. “That’s obviously what happened because I’m still here, and still a Shark, which I’m happy to be. But I wanted another shot at the Cup. Obviously, I’m getting a little bit older. It’s not my last hurrah, I still think I’ve got more years left. But as you get older you realize you only have so many shots at this thing. It would have been nice to at least have a chance.”
But Thornton knows how it goes.
“Back to the grind, and that’s how it is,” said Thornton.
And as Thornton said, he’s not viewing the 2019-20 season as his final hurrah, and on an expiring deal, he’ll get to pick where he wants to go next year in search of a Cup if he so chooses. Or he could return to San Jose with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson not looking for a full rebuild given the dollars they’ve already committed to the core of this team. The financials are not as important to Thornton, clearly, as he’s repeatedly made bargain deals with the Sharks to fit on their books.
But if he does stay in San Jose on another deal and they fail to contend, it’s hard to imagine that another year and trade deadline, this time as a 41-year-old, would bring Thornton any closer to that ‘shot’ he was denied of this time around.