The San Jose Sharks may or may not be entering a rebuilding period, but longtime star forward Joe Thornton says they’re the only team he wants to play for. According to Thornton’s agent and brother, John Thornton, the Sharks are the only team on his no-movement clause, which allows him to decline possible trades based on where he’d be sent.
Thornton, the Sharks’ captain, has been one of the faces of the franchise in recent years, but has come under some fire for his inability to lead the team deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs. In the 2014 playoffs, San Jose took a 3-0 lead in the first round against the L.A. Kings before allowing the eventual champions to win four straight games and advance.
That series has obviously put a bad taste in San Jose’s mouth, and it’s led the team to openly discuss blowing up the roster to reload for the future.
Such a scenario would likely see the team trade Thornton, but given his no-movement clause, he has significant leverage in any negotiations. Thornton’s agent says he would possibly change his mind “if it got to the point where he felt like the Sharks’ fanbase no longer wanted him,” per Pro Hockey Talk, which is an admittedly subjective claim.
Clearly, that final point gives Thornton an out should the pressure to leave San Jose be overwhelming, but for now, it’s important to remember how good he remains. At age 34, he played all 82 games and recorded 11 goals and 76 points as the Sharks’ top center, continuing to be one of the most steady top-liners in the NHL.
Even at his advanced age, Thornton remains a quality player, but San Jose gave him a three-year extension worth over $20 million in January. If they want to get out of that contract — which isn’t really an overpay, to be fair — they’ll need to find a suitor that fits Thornton’s desires.