While it’s been discussed a great deal this offseason and even part of last season, it was hard to wrap one’s head around the idea that Joe Thornton might actually leave the San Jose Sharks. He did so on Friday and joined the Toronto Maple Leafs at a league-minimum salary. It was certainly a contract the Sharks would have happily offered.
But, that wasn’t exactly the point. Thornton saw it as time to move on. He spent a lot of great years there but the team simply couldn’t offer him what he needed.
As Pierre LeBrun of TSN put it — and he phrased it well –, “I feel for Sharks fans who are as loyal as they come, they love Joe Thornton.” He added, “But I’m sure they also will understand why he did this. They didn’t win a Cup but the Sharks did about everything else while No. 19 was there, contenders year in year out. A great legacy in San Jose.”
For the Sharks as an organization, this is a sad day. And, you know it’s hit them hard just by looking at how they’ve responded since the news broke Thornton was headed east and up to Canada.
The team took to Twitter and wrote, “Going to log off for a bit. Brb. Maybe.”
It’s about the most heart-wrenching thing an organization can write. They aren’t being mean or acting bitter that he’s choosing not to stay. They’re simply point out that it’s hard to imagine a future without Thornton being a part of it.
He meant so much to that organization in so many ways, it’s understandable that the fanbase will run a mix of every emotion. Some will be happy for Thornton that he’ll get a chance to win. Others will be upset that he’s not retiring a Sharks’ player.
In the end, the Sharks likely want what’s best for Jumbo Joe. That doesn’t stop it from hurting.
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