As almost everyone knows, Joe Thornton has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs announced their new hire Friday.
Thornton signed a one-year contract for the league minimum salary of $700,000. There are no bonuses involved in the contract, so what you see is what you get.
The 41-year-old is currently skating with HC Davos in the Swiss National League and he will report to training camp with Toronto when details on the 2020-2021 season emerge.
Many are marketing this acquisition as a last-chance deal for Thornton, who is probably entering the final season of his storied career and taking a swing at winning it all on the Maple Leafs – the team closest to where the man himself was raised and the team he believes most likely to make a run at the Stanley Cup in 2020-2021.
This is, in effect, a homecoming for Thornton and a deal that reminds one of the March 2004 acquisition of Ron Francis. He spent a dozen games with Toronto in his quest for the Cup and played in a dozen playoff games before hanging up the skates for good. Granted, Francis already had a few Cup rings at that point.
For Jumbo Joe, it will be a chance to end things the right way.
For the Maple Leafs, it’s a chance to have their young guns benefit from some true experience. You can’t really put a dollar value on Thornton’s presence in that locker room and his tenure in Toronto could be what really puts these dudes over the hump.
Nobody really knows what’s in store for Toronto or anyone else in the coming season, but having the right culture helps. The Leafs now boast a collection of veteran guidance that includes Wayne Simmonds, Jason Spezza, Jake Muzzin, and John Tavares, and Thornton.
On the ice, considering Thornton (or Simmonds or Spezza) alongside the likes of Alex Kerfoot or Nick Robertson is pretty neat. Toronto could assemble an incredible bottom six, a slick mix of hard, poised veterans to move the biscuit to faster forwards. And sticking Thornton on the power play probably won’t hurt, either.
It’s hard not to see this as a win for Toronto – and optimistically, Jumbo Joe. While he’ll still be subjected to that most ludicrous of microscopes in Leafdom, here’s hoping Thornton’s celebrated career has a chance to wrap up the right way.
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