Veteran forward Joe Thornton has accomplished just about everything that one could hope for during his extensive National Hockey League career. But there's only one piece of hardware missing from his resume, and that's the elusive Stanley Cup title.
After over a decade playing with the San Jose Sharks, Thornton decided to sign with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs before last season, but a championship run wasn't meant to be. And now, Thornton will continue his quest for his first every championship with the Florida Panthers.
The rising Panthers signed Thornton to a one-year contract earlier today, and according to the man himself, it was an easy decision after speaking with several members within the organization.
"Well, I watched the playoffs last year, Florida-Tampa (Bay Lightning), and it was a great series and I love their team and it left a big impression on me," Thornton said. "I talked to (Panthers general manager) Bill (Zito), I talked to 'Lou' (special adviser Roberto Luongo), I talked to (coach) Joel Quenneville, and they were just so excited about their team, what they're building down there, and just thought I'd be a great fit with this group. My family was behind me, I have two young kids who are on board in meeting the players and they're excited. But talking with Bill, Lou and Joel, it was an easy decision after that."
Thornton will be appearing in his 24th NHL season after he scored 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 44 regular-season games with the Leafs last season, and one goal in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"I see their team on paper, I watched their team last year, I love their team and that's it," Thornton said. "I love what they're building and excited to be part of it. But everything is about ultimately winning the Stanley Cup and the Panthers are right there, in my opinion."
He'll be ready to hit the ice flying after training with HC Davos in Switzerland to prepare for this season.
"I've been training over there for a while now," he said. "We've been going two a days and body feels good, the mind feels good. I knew pretty much shortly after the season, I started training right away and I felt good. So yeah, here we go again."