sunny.png
Sunday September 25th, 2022 4:31PM

Panthers' Joe Thornton says he's undecided on playing future

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Joe Thornton’s career may be over. Or not.

The veteran center, who just completed his 24th season in the NHL and first with the Florida Panthers, said Wednesday that he has not decided whether to retire or continue playing.

“My wife was kind of asking me last night,” Thornton said. “And really, I have no plans. It’s kind of exciting that way. I came here to win a championship and we fell short of that. But I think the Florida Panthers are going to be good for a long time. It’s exciting around here now.”

The question is whether he’ll be part of that excitement going forward.

Thornton turns 43 on July 2. He was the second-oldest skater to appear in a game this season; New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara turned 45 in March, and like Thornton just completed his 24th season in the league.

They were two of four players in the 40s who got into games this season. Buffalo goalie Craig Anderson was a month shy of turning 41 when he made his final appearance of the season, and Edmonton goalie Mike Smith turned 40 in March.

“I’ve been privileged to play this game for a long time,” Thornton said. “I don’t take anything for granted.”

Longtime San Jose Sharks running mate Patrick Marleau announced his retirement earlier this month after playing 23 seasons in the NHL. Marleau broke Gordie Howe’s games played record and retired having played 1,779 in the regular season during his career.

Thornton has played 1,714 games — sixth most in regular-season history — with San Jose, Boston, Toronto and now the Panthers. He recently joked he would let Marleau keep his place in the history books.

Thornton appeared in 34 games with the Panthers this season, scoring five goals and adding five assists.

“Everybody loves to be around him,” Panthers forward Anton Lundell said. “He’s a funny guy and he loves to work. You see how much he cares about the sport, how much he loves to play, and the biggest thing is how much he loves to be around the boys. He doesn’t really like to take any days off.”

For perspective, Lundell was born Oct. 3, 2001. One day later, Thornton started his fifth NHL season.

Thornton picked the Panthers last summer because he felt coming to Florida was his best hope to finally win what would be his first Stanley Cup championship. The Panthers won the Presidents' Trophy, set team records for goals, wins and points and captured a playoff series for the first time since 1996 — but got swept out of the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Kind of wish I'd played with him," said Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette, who played 16 NHL seasons before turning his attention to coaching. “But I got to coach him, and that was a great experience."

Thornton played in only one playoff game with the Panthers, that being the series finale against the Lightning. He said he didn't go through the traditional handshakes at the end of that game thinking it could be his final moments of his life as an active player.

“I never think ‘what-ifs,' to be honest with you," Thornton said. “I just try to live in the moment and go from there."

But the Panthers will go into next season believing they are a contender again, and if he decides to go for a 25th season that could certainly appeal to Thornton.

“I think the world of Joe Thornton,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said.

Thornton is 12th in regular-season history with 1,539 points. Most of the top 33 scorers in NHL history have already been enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame; the only ones who aren’t yet in are Thornton, Jaromir Jagr, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, and that’s because none of those four players are yet eligible.

___

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Hockey
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Texas gunman warned online he was going to shoot up school
The governor of Texas says the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school had warned on social media minutes before the attack that he was going to shoot up a school
3:05PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Desperation becomes sorrow after elementary school shooting
Desperation turned to heart-wrenching sorrow for families of grade schoolers killed after an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in their Texas classroom and began shooting, killing at least 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers
2:55PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Fed officials signal rates may head to 'restrictive' levels
Federal Reserve officials agreed when they met earlier this month that they might have to raise interest rates to levels that would weaken the economy as part of their drive to curb inflation, which has reached a four-decade high
2:52PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
French Open updates | No. 1 Djokovic eases into 3rd round
Novak Djokovic has eased into the third round of his French Open title defense with a straight-set victory over Alex Molcan
12:55PM ( 2 hours ago )
Panthers' Joe Thornton says he's undecided on playing future
Joe Thornton’s career may be over
12:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
French Open updates | Zverev completes comeback in 5-set win
Alexander Zverev had to rally from two sets down and save a match point to reach the third round Roland Garros
12:28PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Oilers win 5-3, push Flames to the brink of elimination
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal of the game with 3:27 left in regulation, and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Calgary Flames 5-3 to take a 3-1 lead in the second-round playoff series
1:03AM ( 14 hours ago )
Rangers power past Hurricanes 4-1 in Game 4 to even series
Andrew Copp had a goal and two assists, and Frank Vatrano and Adam Fox each had a goal and an assist as the New York Rangers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 in Game 4 to even their second-round series
9:51PM ( 17 hours ago )
For Panthers, regular season success didn't lead to Cup run
There will be a Presidents’ Trophy banner hanging over the Florida Panthers’ home ice next season
1:13PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Hockey
Texas gunman warned online he was going to shoot up school
The governor of Texas says the gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school had warned on social media minutes before the attack that he was going to shoot up a school
3:05PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Desperation becomes sorrow after elementary school shooting
Desperation turned to heart-wrenching sorrow for families of grade schoolers killed after an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in their Texas classroom and began shooting, killing at least 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers
2:55PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Fed officials signal rates may head to 'restrictive' levels
Federal Reserve officials agreed when they met earlier this month that they might have to raise interest rates to levels that would weaken the economy as part of their drive to curb inflation, which has reached a four-decade high
2:52PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to strengthen his control of southern Ukraine by giving residents of two regions a fast path to Russian citizenship
2:52PM ( 30 minutes ago )
EPA proposes restrictions in fight over Alaska mine
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing restrictions that would block plans for a copper and gold mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region
2:48PM ( 33 minutes ago )