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Joe Thornton thinks he can play until he's 40

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Who can blame him?

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Joe Thornton, the immortal, has played very well this season. We've talked about that ad nauseam, but something I touched on here is his longevity. In the always informative 30 Thoughts column by Elliotte Friedman, he discusses Thornton being a Masterton and Hart candidate and about how his style changed ever so slightly when Peter DeBoer took over as head coach.

"Pete’s style is just a little different, it took a bit of time to get used to his system, but he’s a huge believer in the way I see the game…push, get into the forecheck, create havoc. He hasn’t asked me to change many things." Well, except one. Thornton was never interested in staying away from the rink. If anyone was there, he’d go on the ice. Even on days off, he'd go and work on his sticks. "He convinced me to stay away, get rest. The light turned on…it’s okay not to skate, not to work out. I’m a creature of habit. So I changed my mindset, and it definitely helped. My energy level, I feel so alive, no fatigue." What was it like sitting at home? "So strange," he laughed. "I didn’t know what to do, so I took the kids to school. Very strange."

Ah, yes, schools. Very strange. Never much cared for them myself. Jamie Baker talked up Thornton's work ethic as a big part of the reason he's stayed so good for so long. At this point in his career, it may make the most sense for Thornton to ease off on the throttle a bit if he wants to keep playing for a few more years. Right, that.

I love the game, I love the guys. The fellowship, competing. I love everything hockey has to offer, if my body and mind allows me to play until I’m 44? You can’t predict that."

He has said before he would like to go to Switzerland, where his wife is from. Is that still the case? "Definitely a possibility for the family. It is important for me to give back to them. Their side of the family rides shotgun while we’re here. They know Swiss-German, speak it at home every day, but I want my children to know their grandparents and cousins."

"My game changed for the better when Hertl joined us. He added a special dimension we needed. And he’s competitive, he’s pushed me a little bit." I explained there’s one writer, Adam Gretz of CBS Sports, really pushing him for the Hart. "He’s a smart man!" was the reply.

Thornton isn't surprised the Sharks bounced right back to the playoffs and would welcome a first round series against the Kings. That's a good thing, because it's becoming ever likely that we're getting it. Okay, one last thing...on the Brent Burns vs. Thornton beard debate.

"His grows so fast, mine has so much, so much grey. I don't mind it, but my wife hates it. I’ll look 25 again when I shave."

Joe is the best.