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Maple Leafs Never Even Spoke to Joe Thornton About Another Contract

The Toronto Maple Leafs apparently never had a conversation about an possible extension this season with Joe Thornton.

According to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, the Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t looking to bring back Joe Thornton this season. He likely knew it was a one-and-done, they knew it was a one-and-done and he wound up signing with the Florida Panthers as a result of the fact his run with the blue and white didn’t work out as expected for either party.

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Simmons is fairly critical of Thornton in his latest piece, suggesting the Florida Panthers just made a pretty big mistake by giving a shot to a veteran who was not a good player last season. Suggesting they must not have watched him play, Simmons admits that the Leafs loved having Thornton around the locker room and that he was quite popular, but he’s got little left to give on the ice. The scribe compared Thornton’s signing to Corey Perry’s signing in Tampa Bay — old players signing in Florida — , but said that one of those deals was a good one for their respective team. Clearly, he wasn’t referring to Thornton’s.

Simmons adds:

Thornton is the sixth Leaf to leave since the playoff disappointment versus Montreal. Gone from last season: Zach Hyman, Thornton, Nick Foligno, Frederik Andersen, Zach Bogosian and Alex Galchenyuk, who has yet to catch on anywhere in free agency. The Leafs never informed Thornton they had any intention of bringing him back …

Joe Thornton Florida Panthers
Joe Thornton signs with Florida Panthers

It’s not clear if Simmons is saying Thornton had any desire to return to Toronto and had known as the season abruptly ended at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens if he’d be moving on. It also wasn’t made clear if the Leafs had plans to reach out to the player after they’d completed all of their other business. Perhaps none of that matters.

One More Kick at the Cup for Thornton

Thornton will now try to do in Florida what he couldn’t do in Toronto. He wants another crack at winning a Stanley Cup that has eluded him his entire career. Even if he doesn’t have a lot to offer, he’s moved onto a team that projects to be pretty good this coming season.

Does Florida have a much higher chance of winning that the Maple Leafs do? That’s hard to say, but the scenery while he tries to win should be a whole lot nicer and the scrutiny around his production a lot less central a theme to the upcoming season.

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