Joe Thornton signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.The 41-year-old center scored 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in 70 games with the San Jose Sharks last season, his 15th with the team.
Thornton on Thursday announced he was joining HC Davos of the Swiss National League, where he will play and prepare for the 2020-21 NHL season, which is targeted to begin on Jan. 1.
“I’ve been watching this, all the ‘buzz’, the questions about what’s going to happen to me,” Thornton told Tages-Anzeiger, a Swiss German-language newspaper. “The desire to continue playing (in the NHL) is there. I will be able to prepare myself well for it here in Switzerland.”
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Acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 30, 2005, Thornton is the Sharks leader in assists (804), is second in games (1,104) and points (1,055) and is fourth in goals (251).
Selected by Boston with the No. 1 pick of the 1997 NHL Draft, Thornton has 1,509 points (420 goals, 1,089 assists) in 1,636 games over 22 seasons with the Sharks and Bruins. He has 133 points (31 goals, 102 assists) in 179 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Thornton is the NHL active leader in assists and points and is seventh in assists, ninth in games and 14th in points in NHL history.
An 11-time 20-goal scorer, Thornton won the Hart Trophy voted as NHL most valuable player in 2005-06, when he scored 125 points (29 goals, 96 assists) with the Sharks and Bruins and led the NHL in points.
He was an NHL First Team All-Star in 2005-06 and was named to the Second Team three times (2002-03, 2007-08, 2015-16).