In the middle of a heated NHL playoff race, the San Jose Sharks announce that Joe Thornton is out for several weeks with a MCL issue.
In a Jan. 23 game against the Winnipeg Jets, Joe Thornton left the ice with what was an apparent lower-body injury. On Jan. 24, the San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson announced that Thornton would be out several weeks with an injury to the MCL in his right knee.
This is particularly worrisome because of last year’s postseason. Returning in game three of the Western Conference quarterfinals, Thornton played the final four games of the series with a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee. Last year’s injury and Thornton’s new injury are on different legs, but the history is still there.
Thornton is an NHL veteran of 1,493 regular season games, not including 160 career postseason games. He has amassed 1,427 regular season points in his career to date, including a 114 point 2006-2007 season. So far this season, Thornton is second on the team in points, behind only Brent Burns. He has a respectable 36 points in 47 games, 18 of which came on the powerplay.
The San Jose Sharks are currently in a heated playoff race, which is why losing Thornton could prove highly detrimental to them. While sitting comfortably in a playoff spot, they are playing a seemingly never-ending game of catch up with the NHL-leading Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
Thornton returned to the Sharks this season on a one year, eight million dollar deal, but his future with the team and in the NHL is uncertain. It remains to be seen whether or not a team will take a chance on a 37-year-old veteran with close to 1,500 games played and who is coming off of two consecutive knee surgeries. Because he has yet to win a Stanley Cup, he’ll likely be back again next year, even if it’s with a much smaller salary.