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Thornton signs one-year contract with Sharks

39-year-old center recovering from knee injury

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Joe Thornton signed a one-year contract with the San Jose Sharks on Monday.

It is the second straight year Thornton, who turned 39 on Monday, signed a one-year contract to stay in San Jose.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

"There's no secret, I feel this team is just getting better and better," Thornton said.


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The Sharks also signed restricted free agent forward Tomas Hertl to a four-year contract Monday after re-signing center Logan Couture to an eight-year extension Sunday that begins with the 2019-20 season. They re-signed forward Evander Kane to a seven-year contract May 24.

"I think with [general manager] Doug [Wilson] adding [Kane] again this year, our window is always open it seems, in San Jose, and it's a good feeling," Thornton said.

Thornton had 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 47 games last season, but missed the final 35 games of the regular season and the 10 games San Jose played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after having surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee Jan. 25, two days after he was injured against Winnipeg Jets.

They were the same procedures he had on his left knee April 22, 2017. Thornton did a quick rehab last year and started the season on time, but admittedly did go through some struggles early, when he was also dealing with some back pain.

The difference this year is he'll have an extra three months to rehab to be ready for the season.

"I'm way further along," said Thornton, who added he has finished his rehab and is 100 percent healthy.

Video: Joe Thornton re-signs with the Sharks for one year

Thornton will begin the skating portion of his offseason training next week in Switzerland, where his wife, Tabea Pfendsack, is from.

"There's nobody that loves the game more than him," Wilson said. "Nobody works harder, and I think because of the love of the game, I think he's going to come back excited.

"He's just a unique player. He's one of the great players that have ever played this game. He's a generational-type guy and with his leadership and mentorship to all our guys, we can't wait to see him back in the room in training camp."

Thornton said he feels so good that he has no timetable for how much longer he'll keep playing.

"I've never been hurt in my whole career and the last two years I got two injuries, so you never know what can happen," he said. "As of this moment, I feel great. I don't know what tomorrow brings, but I'd like to play as long as I can. Staying healthy, I think I can."

Odds are he'll do it only in San Jose. For the second straight offseason, Thornton was flexible with his contract demands to help Wilson try to make other moves.

"That's just unheard of, but that's the type of guy Joe is," Wilson said.

Last offseason, it was trying to entice longtime Sharks forward Patrick Marleau to re-sign, but he signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This offseason, it was trying to give Wilson the room under the NHL salary cap to sign unrestricted free agent center John Tavares, who also chose the Maple Leafs, signing a seven-year, $77 million contract Sunday.

"It would have been nice to get Johnnie, but I think you look at our team still, Doug and [owner] Hasso [Plattner] and [coach] Pete [DeBoer], they've allowed us to compete every year, and I think it's no different again this year," Thornton said. "We're going to compete for a Cup."

Video: SJS@ANA: Thornton rips home power-play goal

Thornton wants to do it playing on the same line with Kane, something he didn't have the chance to do last season.

The Sharks acquired Kane in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 26, when Thornton was almost a month into his rehab. But Thornton was the first Sharks player to reach out to Kane after the trade and picked him up at the airport when he arrived in San Jose.

Wilson said he told Thornton he and Kane should make a perfect match.

"I think he's figured out the game now and now he's ready to explode," Thornton said. "Hopefully I get a chance to play with him this year because I think being a passer I think it sets up pretty good for playing with each other."

And if it doesn't work out, Wilson doesn't have any concern about that with Thornton.

"The beauty of Joe, and it's no different than the flexibility he shows on his contract, he's a team-first guy," Wilson said. "Whatever is right for the team, Joe has always been that way."

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