Many of the top players in the National Hockey League changed teams this past July 1, either for a change of scenery or strictly as a means to grab a small fortune. But arguably the top player in the NHL decided he was quite content where he was at. Luckily for San Jose Sharks fans, that player was Joe Thornton
“There’s no question I was going to re-sign,” said Thornton. “It’s a perfect fit for me. The ownership wants a winner, and we’ve got a great young team.”
|On April 5, Thornton became just the third player in NHL history to record back-to-back 90 assist seasons. |
Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced on “Free Agent Sunday” that the club has signed Thornton to a three-year contract extension, which will keep the 2006 Hart Trophy winner in San Jose through the 2010-11 season.
is among the top group of elite players in the National Hockey League,” said Wilson. “In addition to his play on the ice, Joe leads by example and has as much love for the game as anyone I have seen. Making sure Joe remained in San Jose was a top priority and he will be an integral part of our franchise as we march towards our goal of competing for the Stanley Cup next year and for years to come.”
Thornton has been among the most dominant players in the NHL over the last two seasons since being acquired by San Jose on Nov. 30, 2005. During that span, his 239 points (51 goals, 188 assists) lead all NHL scorers. In addition, Thornton is the leading scorer in the NHL since the beginning of 2002-03 season with 413 points (110 goals, 303 assists. Furthermore, Thornton leads all NHL players who were 27 or younger entering last season in career scoring with 660 points (211 goals, 449 assists) in 672 games, averaging 0.98 points per game.
On April 5, Thornton became just the third player in NHL history to record back-to-back 90 assist seasons, along with Wayne Gretzky (12 times, 1980-81 through 1991-92) and Mario Lemieux (1987-88 and 1988-89). He has also set new Sharks franchise records for points and assists in a single season.
Since being acquired by San Jose on Nov. 30, 2005, Thornton has posted 206 points (42 goals, 164 assists) in only 140 games (1.47 points per game).
A four-time NHL All-Star (2002-2005, 2007), has also represented Team Canada on the 2006 Olympic Team, World Championships (2001, 2005) and World Cup of Hockey (2004). He was named a First-Team NHL All-Star in 2006 and Second-Team NHL All-Star in 2003
“It epitomizes the type of guy Joe is,” said Wilson. “Joe is one of the best players in the league and he made a commitment. He wanted to do it and I wanted to do it. When you get someone who truly wants to be here, it makes it easy.”