Joe Thornton officially announces his retirement from the NHL after over 1,700 games for the Bruins, Sharks, Maple Leafs, and Panthers

Joe Thornton officially announces his retirement from the NHL after over 1,700 games for the Bruins, Sharks, Maple Leafs, and Panthers

Joe Thornton, one of the longest tenured skaters in the history of the National Hockey League, officially announced his retirement on Saturday.

In a video message shared by the San Jose Sharks, Thornton, 44, officially announced the end to his long career.

‘Judging how many people keep asking me, I guess I have to tell you I’m officially retired from the NHL,’ Thornton jokingly said, shirtless and wearing a broad-brimmed hat.

‘Thought you guys would’ve figure it out sooner, but you kept asking – so here I am, retiring. I have so much love for the game of hockey and for [a] countless number of people that helped this kid’s dream become a reality.

‘And if you’re looking for me, you know where to find me. I’ll be at the rink. Peace and love.’

Thornton, the last active NHLer to have played in the 1990s, logged 1,714 regular season games and 187 playoff games across 25 seasons in the show.

He had yet to play a single game this NHL season and had not signed a contract with any team.

Across all 24 seasons he played for four different teams – but was most well-known for his time with the San Jose Sharks.

He ends his career with the sixth-most games played in NHL history, just 17 games behind Ron Francis for fifth and 65 games behind fellow Shark Patrick Marleau for the all-time record for games played.

Thornton’s 1,109 assists are good for seventh all-time and his 1,539 points are good for 12th all time.

The Boston Bruins selected Thornton first overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft and put him to work right away.

Just before the 2002-03 season, the man known as ‘Jumbo Joe’ was named the 24th captain of the Bruins.

In the midst of the the 2005-06 season, Thornton became unhappy with the direction of the franchise.

After eight seasons in Boston, Thornton was traded for three players to the San Jose Sharks

Thornton was traded in November 2005 to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart.

Over eight seasons in Boston, he logged 532 games, 169 goals, and 285 assists for 454 total points with the Bruins. He also grabbed 18 points in 35 playoff games.

In San Jose, Thornton instantly became a superstar and made Boston regret their decision by winning both the Hart Trophy (league MVP) and the Art-Ross Trophy (most points in the league) for the 05-06 season.

He would lead the league in assists for three straight seasons from the 2005-06 campaign to the 2007-08 season.

Thornton helped bring the Sharks to the Western Conference Finals four times across his career – winning the series in the 2015-16 season.

It was in those 2016 Stanley Cup Finals that the Sharks fell in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins – in Thornton’s only Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

Thornton’s contract with the Sharks expired after the 2019-20 season and he signed elsewhere – leaving the team as their all-time assists leader. He’s also top-four for the Sharks for games played, points, and goals.

At age 41, Thornton signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs – putting up 20 points across 44 games.

He signed with the Florida Panthers last season, but only played in 34 games.

Thornton’s final appearance in an NHL sweater was in Game 4 of the Panthers’ playoff matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He would not play in Florida’s appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.

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