Joe Thornton has yet to say where he might play this season, but Patrick Marleau said he hopes it’s with the San Jose Sharks.
“Obviously if Joe came back, I mean, we’ve had a lot of years together so that would be a comforting thing for myself and I’m sure for a lot of other guys,” Marleau said Tuesday. “Not too sure what he’s going to decide to do, but yeah, we’d love to be able to be on the same club as him as well.”
Marleau, who signed a one-year contract to rejoin the Sharks on Tuesday, said the two have exchanged texts but that he was not aware what Thornton’s next move will be. TSN reported Wednesday that the Toronto Maple Leafs have been in contact with the unrestricted free agent center, who lives in Davos, Switzerland, with his family. TSN also reported Oct. 9 that Thornton said he will play in the NHL next season but that he has not decided where.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said he has also been in touch with Thornton but was noncommittal when asked Tuesday if the center could remain with San Jose.
“Any conversations he and I have are always kept in confidence because of the respect and admiration we have for him as a player, as a person, as a man and what he’s done for this organization,” Wilson said. “But those conversations stay between him and I . We communicate quite a bit.
“We want what’s best for Jumbo and for everybody involved, but as I say, those conversations stay between him and I.”
Thornton scored 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in 70 games last season, his 15th with San Jose and 23rd in the NHL. The 41-year-old has the most assists (804) in Sharks history and is second in points (1,055) and games played (1,104) to Marleau, who will be playing his 21st season with San Jose and 23rd in the NHL. Marleau has scored 1,102 points in 1,551 games for the Sharks.
“My feelings for people like Joe Thornton and Patty Marleau is beyond respect,” Wilson said. “These guys love the game. Look what they’ve done for this franchise. But players have choices, and I want them to do what’s right for them. We want to treat everybody with great respect.”
Thornton is seventh in NHL history in assists (1,089) and ninth in games played (1,636). He has scored 420 goals in 22 seasons with the Sharks and Boston Bruins. He and Marleau were teammates with San Jose from 2005-17, then again last season before Marleau was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 24. Marleau played two seasons with the Maple Leafs after signing with them as a free agent July 2, 2017, then was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, who bought out the final season of his three-year contract. The 41-year-old agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Sharks on Oct. 9, 2019.
“He knows how we all feel about him,” Wilson said of Thornton. “It’s no different than Patty. Here we have Patty coming back for the second time.
“It’s an interesting world and an interesting time in this game, in this league where we’re at. The feelings that we have for Patrick, when he left and came back, the feelings that we have for (former Sharks forward) Joe Pavelski, for Jumbo, anybody that’s been here and contributed to this franchise for a long time, they have a special place in our hearts.”