Joe Thornton is quietly experiencing a very good season with the San Jose Sharks. The veteran forward had no doubt when signing his one-year deal last off-season with the Sharks. He has been productive in this season while serving the role of a teacher for other young Sharks wingers. Now Thornton has made history as he passed Stan Mikita on the All-time NHL scoring list. There are just 13 players in front of him in the history of this sport as of now.
Joe Thornton Reaches Milestone With San Jose Sharks
The mark wasn’t that far away when Thornton scored a hat trick against his former team, the Boston Bruins. It was his first hat trick in almost nine years. The 39-year-old veteran had many questions about his conditioning and health issues during the past season. His knee problems even carried into the current season. At the beginning of this year, Thornton avoided surgery on his right knee and he has been playing some great hockey ever since.
Last summer, Thornton settled down on a one-year deal worth $5,000,000 per season in San Jose. Some people thought the Sharks took a huge risk with that signing. After seeing Thornton posting 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 points in 61 games, there is no doubt left at all.
On Tuesday night, Thornton recorded two assists in a big win for San Jose over the Jets in Winnipeg. With those two helpers, veteran centre passed legendary Mikita on the All-time NHL scoring list. Mikita was a huge legend for the Chicago Blackhawks. A Slovakian native collected 1,467 points in his 1,394 games, all of them he played for the Blackhawks.
Thornton now has 1,469 points, which made him the 14th best in the NHL history. He will never reach the names like Wayne Gretzky or Jaromir Jagr, but Paul Coffey is “just” 62 points away on the 13th spot. Mark Recchi holds the honor with 1,533 points in 12th position. If Thornton keeps up playing beyond this season, reaching that spot is more than real for Number 19.
Thornton Providing Teaching Lessons For Young Sharks
You won’t find a more productive player in the Sharks’ history than Thornton. That’s one of the reasons why he is such a perfect teacher for young players around him. The Sharks have benefited from that this season. During the game against the Jets, Thornton was centering the third line with Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc. Sorensen has 16 goals and 11 assists for 27 points in the current season, while Labanc has 12 goals and 35 assists for 47 points.
But Thornton isn’t used to pivoting just those two guys. Earlier in the season, he tried to play with other wingers like for example Timo Meier, who is having a career year with 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points. Thornton’s production has been a bit unexpected, but much-welcomed impact factor in the Sharks play. There is a reason that San Jose has 94 points in the standings which allows them to lead the Western Conference.
Thornton Rewinds Time, But Eyes The Stanley Cup
Undoubtedly, Thornton is playing his best hockey in three years. He has collected 50 points in 79 games two seasons ago, in the last year he has recorded 36 points in 47 games. His 42 points in 61 games from the current campaign are the best number by far. It’s been quite a different role for Thornton compared to maybe three years ago. He is not the main leader and star player anymore. However, that doesn’t take away the feeling of him rewinding the time.
If Thornton keeps up playing hockey for the upcoming seasons, he may even reach Phil Esposito on the 10th place in the NHL scoring history. Esposito sits there with 1,590 points. The nearest active NHL player on the NHL All-time scoring list is Sidney Crosby with 1,206 points on the 46th place. Even though it would be so nice for the veteran centre to make history again, the Stanley Cup is the main goal.
The Sharks might go to the playoff with the top seed in the Western Conference. They have one of the best teams in the west. San Jose doesn’t want to end up disappointed again. That happened last year when the Vegas Golden Knights surprised them or the Edmonton Oilers in 2017. They have a very solid team and Thornton’s contribution with forming very dangerous third line is appreciated. When there is a time for either San Jose or Thornton to finish the long wait, it´s probably around now.
SAN JOSE, CA – DECEMBER 30: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks skates with the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers at SAP Center on December 30, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)