Thornton undecided on future, says hell only return with Sharks – NHL.com

Thornton undecided on future, says he\ll only return with Sharks - NHL.com

Karlsson, Thorntons future with Sharks uncertain

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton (19) waits for a face-off during their game against the St. Louis Blues in the first period in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Mo., on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton speaks with the news media from the team's practice facility at Solar4America Ice in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

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Sharks head into uncertain offseason with key free agents

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton's locker is photographed the team's practice facility at Solar4America Ice in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

San Jose Sharks Sharks Answer Questions About Future During Locker Clean Out

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton speaks with the news media from the team's practice facility at Solar4America Ice in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

Erik Karlsson did not openup  too much on what he dealt with down the stretch of the postseason, but the two-time Norris Trophy winner’s original groin issue from the regular season gave him a hard time. Karlsson did not rule out surgery, but will work on rehabilitating his injuries through training in the summer.

Sharks could look very different next season as the futures of Thornton, Pavelski and Karlsson remain…

SAN JOSE — Joe Thornton hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he wants to return for a 22nd NHL season and make another run at his first Stanley Cup, and general manager Doug Wilson said the Sharks will give the future Hall of Fame player all the time he needs to make a decision.

NHL Rumors: The San Jose Sharks Have Some Big Decisions to make … Which Direction Will They Go In?

Two days after the Sharks were eliminated from the playoffs by the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final, Thornton said he still had to talk with his family and sit down with majority owner Hasso Plattner, Wilson and coach Pete DeBoer before he decided his next move. Thornton said he didn’t have a timetable for a decision.

As the San Jose Sharks front office is facing down what will be a very eventful summer of free agency. It will be interesting to see if General Manager Doug Wilson is considering any out of the ordinary moves that he believes can finally put this team over the top.

“I feel like I can still play, thats for sure,” Thornton said. “But I havent made any decision at all yet.”

Unrestricted Free Agent Decisions Will Define San Jose Sharks Off-Season

“Im a Shark. Im a Shark,” Thornton said. “Theres one team, and its here.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski pointed to signs of optimism and confidence to proudly wear the color teal and return to the team he has produced many memories for during his 13-year career in the NHL.

Thornton undecided on future, says hell only return with Sharks

Thornton has accomplished nearly everything a player can do through 21 NHL seasons except win a Cup. Just this season, Thornton eclipsed Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe, Stan Mikita and Steve Yzerman to move into eighth place on the NHLs all-time assists list. He finished the regular season with 1,065 helpers.

Sharks could look very different next season as the futures of Thornton, Pavelski and Karlsson remain uncertain

At least one painful goodbye looms for Sharks this off-season

Thornton said he pulled a groin muscle on his first shift of the series against the Blues, but otherwise felt healthy throughout the Sharks 20-game playoff run. He entered the conference final against St. Louis averaging 15 minutes and 59 seconds of ice time per game, sixth-most among all Sharks forwards.

“He certainly wasnt 100 percent, but he gave us all he could,” Wilson said. “I think we had [Karlsson] healthy for maybe six weeks, and he showed what he was capable of. Theres such a fine line between being injured and being hurt. Guys will bring whatever they can, thats the nature of hockey players. You have to protect players from themselves, and also admire their heart and commitment.”

It was just entertaining, man,” Thornton said. “The Vegas series, wow, and Colorado, wow. Youre the final three teams left and its disappointing not to be playing next week. I think the people of this area are proud of the guys in here and I think they should be. With the amount of guys that were injured, thats no excuse, but they poured their hearts out and played their hearts out this year.

“Ive worked hard for 10 years in this league to be in the position that Im in. Ive earned that,” Karlsson said. “Its a big responsibility and decision coming up for me personally. I havent really dealt with that (UFA) process yet. Ill do everything I can to make the best decision for myself and for the team that is going to want me.”

Thornton is finally entering another offseason where he doesn’t have to rehabilitate a knee injury.

“Right now, Im here talking to you guys, cleaning out my locker, which is all that Im worried about for the time being,” said the San Jose Sharks defenseman, who can become an unrestricted agent for the first time in his career July 1. “Now I have to kind of regroup and assess everything. A lot of things can happen.”

Thornton suffered torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee in April 2017, just a week before the playoffs began, before he remarkably returned to play in the third game of the Sharks first round series against the Edmonton Oilers. He suffered the same injury, only to his right knee, in Jan. 2018, but was unable to make a comeback for that playoff run, which ended with a six-game loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round.

“Everybody is dealing with something. You have to play through things. I was able to do that. For that, Im proud and grateful. Its nothing major. Its just going to take some time and figure everything out. It should be something thats easy to deal with. Thats as much as I know.”

Thornton had to spend countless in rehabilitation in both of the last two summers, which led to slower-than-hoped for start the following season.

Both times, though, he as able to bounce back to be more productive in the second half of the season. Thornton played in 73 games this season and finished with 51 points.

“I dont think that anything that we could have done would have changed the outcome,” Karlsson said. “I was very fortunate to be able to play pretty much all the games, except the last one, in the playoffs at a reasonable level, even for my standards. I think thats great.

“He’s still got game,” DeBoer said. “For me, I’d love to have him back.”

Karlsson, who was acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Sept. 13, had 45 points (three goals, 42 assists) in 53 regular-season games and 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games for San Jose.

Its been a while that I havent had to worry about swelling in either knee and things like that, so its going to be nice to get some rest here first off, and then see what the plans are,” Thornton said. “Its nice.

Because it weighs on you man, it does. Its a grind that rehab process. Some guys are going to have to go through it this summer and its a grind. Its mentally tough to do that every single day and not sure what the outcome is going to be. For me personally, dont have that issue. Well see.

Some Sharks players and even DeBoer after their loss in Game 6 mentioned how they wanted to win a Cup for Thornton.

Pavelski did not play in Game 6 of the conference final against the Blues after he said he reaggravated a lower-body injury when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo hit him along the boards in the third period of Game 5. He also missed the first six games of the second round against the Colorado Avalanche after sustaining a concussion in Game 7 of the first round against the Vegas Golden Knights. 

I didnt buy into that. I think that was more for you guys,” Thornton said. “I think this whole area needs a Cup. Theyre definitely on the right track, and just disappointing for this area not to be playing like I said next week, but this was a really, really fun team to watch, entertaining team to watch, and an inspirational team to watch.

Related Articles How to proceed with Joe Pavelski may be Doug Wilson’s biggest decision this summer Tough call for Erik Karlsson and the Sharks, too For the Sharks, an offseason of uncertainty begins Sharks’ Thornton says he hasn’t thought about retirement The better team won, as Sharks beaten at own game He’s played 1,566 games in his career and has 1,478 points — 1,024 since he came to San Jose on Nov. 30, 2005 in what became the biggest trade in franchise history.

“Ive got a pretty strong belief system that Ill be back here, its just things that have to work themselves out along the way,” Pavelski said. “Its nothing Im too worried about. We love it here, we really do. Love playing here. Im sure things will move along, and well have talks and see where were all at.”

“Hes a Shark,” Wilson said, “I have such tremendous respect for him, not just as a hockey player but as a man. He can have all the time he needs to make whatever decisions right for him. But we love him.

“He can have all the time he needs to make whatever decisions right for him, but we love him,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. “Ive been in this business a long time, Ive never met anyone like him and we cherish the days we have him. Whatever decision he makes, were there for him.”

“I think Ive been in this business a long time, Ive never met anyone like him and we cherish the days we have him. Whatever decision he makes, were there for him.”

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (65), of Sweden, skates away after scoring the winning goal past St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington, left, during overtime in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference final series Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in St. Louis. The Sharks won 5-4 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)MoreSAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — If Joe Thornton comes back for a 22nd season in the NHL, it would only be with the San Jose Sharks. Captain Joe Pavelski is confident he will get a deal done to stay with the franchise he joined as a draft pick back in 2003.

With so many players to sign and only so much money, the Sharks will have to bid farewell to one or more members of their star-studded UFA group this summer.

The situation with the other major potential unrestricted free agent is far less certain. After Erik Karlssons injury-plagued first season in San Jose ended with him sitting at home with an injured groin during a Game 6 loss at St. Louis in the Western Conference final, the star defenseman said he hasnt thought yet about his plans for the summer.

Ive been treated with nothing but class and respect here, Karlsson said Thursday. Ive seen the best side of what this organization and this city has and I like everything Ive seen. Now I have to kind of regroup and assess everything. A lot of things can happen. Its a weird business were in. I enjoyed my time here. Whatever happens is going to happen for a reason.

Karlsson had a less-than-ideal season after being acquired as potentially the final piece needed for a championship in a trade from Ottawa on the eve of training camp. He struggled to adjust to his new team early in the season before playing at an elite level for about six weeks when the Sharks looked as good as any team in the league.

Karlsson then injured his groin and missed 27 of the final 33 regular-season games before returning for the playoffs, lacking his usual burst as a skater. Even at less than 100% in the postseason, Karlsson showed flashes of his playmaking with 14 assists and two goals, including the overtime winner in Game 3 against the Blues.

But he was unable to play for a long stretch late in a Game 4 loss and was limited in a Game 5 loss before sitting out the third period. He couldnt go at all in Game 6.

In the final game, the Sharks were also without Pavelski, who re-injured his knee in Game 5, and forward Tomas Hertl, who had a concussion. That left little in the tank for a team that won a pair of Game 7s already in the playoffs, including an epic three-goal comeback in the final game of the first round against Vegas after Pavelski left with a bloody concussion.

If you lose your difference-makers, its difficult, general manager Doug Wilson said. But this group always bounced back and found a way, for that were extremely proud. No excuses, line up, next man up, all those things that you hear, this group lived that. Ill be honest: Ive been in this business 40 years. I think the thing that epitomizes this group is the Vegas game, Game 7 where you see the emotional chaos of your captain going down, being carried off and how the group responded, showed you everything you needed to know about this group. Ill remember that moment forever.

Pavelski and Thornton have been integral parts of the Sharks for years. Pavelski was a seventh-round draft pick in 2003 and has scored 355 goals in 13 seasons, becoming captain and a fan favorite during his journey.

Thornton arrived in a franchise-altering trade from Boston on Nov. 30, 2005, turning the Sharks into a perennial Cup contender that can never quite win it all.

They drive the environment, coach Peter DeBoer said. They drive the messaging every day in here. From a coachs perspective, those guys are invaluable people for us.

The Sharks opted not to extend Pavelskis contract last summer when he came off a 22-goal season hampered by injuries. But his level of play rose this year with a team-leading 38 goals and he will be eligible to hit the open market in July, shortly before his 35th birthday.

I know Im going to be playing hockey next year. Hopefully its going to be here, he said. We love it here. I think something will happen, who really knows, but coming off a lot of emotions coming through the playoffs and that round, well sit down and take a look at what will happen here.

The situation with Thornton is simpler. If he wants to come back for another season at age 40, it would only be with the Sharks. He plans to sit down with his family and Sharks management before making his decision.

Thornton finished this season for a change after needing major knee surgery the past two years. Hes accomplished almost everything in a career, ranking eighth all-time with 1,065 assists and 14th with 1,478 points but hasnt won a championship.

His teammates and coaches talked all postseason about wanting to win for Thornton and came close before ultimately falling six wins short.

I didnt buy into that, Thornton said. I think that was more for you guys. I think this whole area needs a Cup. Theyre definitely on the right track, and just disappointing for this area not to be playing, like I said, next week, but this was a really fun team to watch, entertaining team to watch, and an inspirational team to watch.


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