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Joe Thornton returns to Sharks on one-year contract

Veteran center reportedly gets $8 million to stay with San Jose

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Center Joe Thornton signed a one-year contract to return to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

"I think one year works at this point in my career," Thornton said. "Just really go year-by-year and just see how I feel. I feel like I've got a lot left in the tank, and hopefully after this deal I'll keep signing. But I felt comfortable with it. The team felt comfortable with it. It's that simple, I guess."

 

[RELATED: Thornton's heart was always in San Jose | Maple Leafs thrilled to have Patrick Marleau]

 

It is worth $8 million, according to Thornton's agents, Top Shelf Hockey.

"It was interesting, to say the least. But ultimately I wanted to stay in San Jose," Thornton said of testing free agency. "That's why I signed here. I feel like I'm a Shark. It was a fun process, but yeah, I'm coming back."

Earlier Sunday, longtime teammate forward Patrick Marleau signed a three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I was in constant talks with [Marleau] and texts and calling each other," Thornton said. "You know, obviously I'm bummed that [he's] not coming back. But I think he's going to do great in Toronto, and I think it's going to be a good fit. I think [Marleau's] going to be a Shark for life, and I think he's going to go down as the best Shark of all time. So I'm just happy for him and his family, and as far as the Sharks are concerned, everybody's just got to pick up the goal-scoring a little bit and move on."

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Thornton agreed to a one-year contract Friday with different salaries depending on the circumstances with Marleau. 

"Joe deserves a huge compliment for what he was willing to do," Wilson said.

Video: Joe Thornton re-signs with Sharks for 1-year

Thornton, who turned 38 Sunday, had 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists) with the Sharks last season, his fewest in a full season since he had 41 with the Boston Bruins in 1998-99. He had two assists in four Stanley Cup Playoff games and revealed after the postseason he had been playing with a torn ACL and MCL.

"I haven't trained my legs like this ever in my career, so my legs are going to be stronger than ever, to be honest with you," Thornton said.

On March 6 against the Winnipeg Jets, Thornton became the 13th player to reach 1,000 assists in the NHL. He is the Sharks' all-time leader in assists (722) and rating (plus-181), is second in games played (914) and points (937), and is third in goals (215).

Thornton, selected by the Bruins with the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft, was traded to San Jose from Boston on Nov. 30, 2005. In 81 games with the Sharks and Bruins in 2005-06, he had 29 goals and led the League with 96 assists and 125 points, winning the Hart Trophy as League MVP.

Thornton, who had 21 points (three goals, 18 assists) in 24 playoff games in 2016 to help the Sharks advance to the Stanley Cup Final, has played in 1,446 NHL games (tied for 26th) and has 1,391 points (tied for 22nd), 384 goals and 1,007 assists (13th).

"Joe has become one of the faces of this franchise since his arrival in 2005 and we feel it's only fitting that he will be wearing teal going forward," Wilson told the Sharks website. "He is a generational playmaker and his accomplishments place him amongst the elite players to ever play the game. He has helped lead this team to new levels and continues to be one of the top two-way centers in the League. His leadership on and off the ice have been instrumental in this franchise's success, and we're excited that he has continued his commitment to this organization and the fans in San Jose."

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