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Joe Thornton of Sharks played through torn MCL, ACL

Center, forward Patrick Marleau each can become UFA, want to remain with San Jose

by Eric Gilmore / Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton played with a torn MCL and ACL in his left knee during the Western Conference First Round against the Edmonton Oilers, coach Peter DeBoer said Monday.

Thornton, who missed the final three games of the regular season and first two of the playoffs after he was injured April 2 against the Vancouver Canucks, returned for Game 3 against the Oilers on April 16. He had two assists in four games, but Edmonton advanced to the second round with a 4-2 series win.

"I've never seen a player play with a torn MCL and ACL," DeBoer said. "Basically, his knee is floating there. It was as courageous an effort, him doing what he did, as I've ever seen."

San Jose general manager Doug Wilson said Thornton was scheduled to have knee surgery Monday afternoon.

Thornton downplayed what he endured to play in the four playoff games.

"Just the normal stuff that hockey players deal with," Thornton said. "It was just unfortunate, the time of the year. That it happened three games before the end of the season and the playoffs, you got to deal with something like that. Hockey players are a different breed. There's probably five or six guys that had to deal with different stuff. But it is what it is. I'll go get it checked out today and go from there."

Thornton, 37, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He had 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists) in 79 games this season and has played 914 regular-season games over the past 12 seasons with San Jose.

Forward Patrick Marleau, 37, who played the first-round series with a broken left thumb, also is a pending unrestricted free agent. He said he was injured late in the regular season and won't need surgery.

Video: SJS@DAL: Thornton slams home a loose puck in front

Thornton was acquired by the Sharks in a trade from the Boston Bruins on Nov. 30, 2005. He has 384 goals, 1,007 assists and 1,391 points in his NHL career, including 937 points (215 goals, 722 assists) with San Jose, and made it clear he'd like to re-sign with the Sharks.

"Yeah, I want to come back," Thornton said. "I think this is a Stanley Cup-caliber team and I think I'm a little bit older and I realize how good this team is. Of course, I'd like to come. But we'll have to see. I'm sure we'll be talking."

The Sharks lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final last season.

Marleau has played his entire career with the Sharks since they selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft. He has 1,082 points (508 goals, 574 assists) in 1,493 games, ranking first in games played, goals and points in San Jose history.

Marleau, who is seeking a multiyear contract, said it would be nice to remain with San Jose, "but we'll see if that's an option."

"I have more than a couple years left in me," Marleau said. "I still think I can contribute and play. ... I still feel like I have at least five good years in me or maybe more."

Video: SJS@EDM, Gm5: Marleau taps home loose puck in crease

Thornton and Marleau each said he hasn't begun contract talks with Wilson.

"These guys have been cornerstones of this franchise for a long time," Wilson said. "Not only as players, as people. There's a lot of variables that go into that decision, and the very first one being me sitting down and talking with both of them. We haven't had a chance to do that, but we'll get there. It's a [salary] cap system, there's a lot of different things, but they are very, very special members of this organization. They mean a lot to us."

Sharks center Tomas Hertl played with a broken foot he sustained April 2 against Vancouver, DeBoer said. Center Logan Couture missed the final seven regular-season games after being hit in the mouth with a deflected puck on March 25 against the Nashville Predators but played all six games in the playoffs. He will have extensive dental work done in the offseason.

"The heart and courage that they showed, I've been in this business for a long time, but it still amazes me," Wilson said.

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