On the same day the San Jose Sharks saw all-time leading scorer Patrick Marleau sign elsewhere, center Joe Thornton officially re-signed with the team on a one-year contract, the team announced today. Thornton’s deal is worth $8 million, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun and his agency, Top Shelf Management. His contract also includes a no-movement clause,
"Joe has become one of the faces of this franchise since his arrival in 2005 and we feel it's only fitting that he will be wearing teal going forward," Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "He is a generational playmaker and his accomplishments place him among the elite players to ever play the game. He has helped lead this team to new levels and continues to be one of the top two-way centers in the League. His leadership on and off the ice have been instrumental in this franchise's success, and we're excited that he has continued his commitment to this organization and the fans in San Jose."
Thornton received a “shit ton” of interest, but ultimately wanted to continue playing with the Sharks, he said on a conference call with reporters this evening. 17 teams called the center, LeBrun reported.
The playmaking center tried to pick up an off-ice assist and recruit Marleau, his only remaining teammate from his first game as a Shark on December 2, 2005, to return to San Jose alongside him, Thornton said in the conference call. His efforts to recruit the man he called the best player in franchise history ultimately fell short, as Marleau signed a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier today.
"I was in constant contact with Patty ... Obviously I'm bummed that Patty;s not coming back, but I think he's going to do great in Toronto."— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) July 3, 2017
His efforts extended beyond speaking with Marleau, as Thornton was willing to sign a different contract if it meant that the Sharks were able to bring back Marleau, according to Wilson.
“[He] gave us that flexibility, and has been very transparent and worked with us all the way through this process,” Wilson said in a conference call with reporters. “Without going into the details, Joe deserves a huge compliment for what he was willing to do.”
San Jose now has $10,144,500 in salary cap space and needs to re-sign restricted free agent center Chris Tierney. The team currently has nine forwards, six defenseman, and two goaltenders under contract, but that excludes the potential call-ups (and cap hits) of prospects Timo Meier ($894,167) and Kevin Labanc ($717,500).
Following Marleau’s departure, Thornton is now the longest-tenured (914 games played) and highest-scoring (937 points) active Shark. He should become the second player in franchise history to play 1000 games with the team this season, as long as he’s healthy. The center underwent successful knee surgery in April after suffering (and playing on) a torn MCL and ACL, and told reporters he will resume skating in two weeks.
Thornton signed the contract on his 38th birthday while cutting his lawn, his agency, revealed on Twitter.
When asked why, Thornton provided an answer that was somehow better than saying a “shit ton” of teams were interested him in free agency.
#SJSharks Thornton: 'When the kids are asleep, daddy's out cutting grass. That's what I do'— Paul Gackle (@GackleReport) July 3, 2017