Joe Thornton’s future in the NHL gets clearer…

Not sure we like this….

HockeyFeed

Joe Thornton might have played his last NHL game as the Florida Panthers were swept in the second round by back-to-back defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

The veteran forward made just one appearance in the postseason, a 6:18 cameo in Florida’s 2-0 Game Four loss to Tampa Bay. He was on the ice for the traditional handshake, which might have been the hardest one of his career.
Because we now wonder: is it the end of Jumbo Joe? And signs point that we’ve likely seen Thornton for the final time in the NHL.

It is no secret: Thornton is not the player he is used, especially when he started his career with the Boston Bruins and went on to lead the San Jose Sharks.

This past season in Florida, he put up five goals and 10 points in 34 games: his lowest record since his rookie season more than two decades ago in 1997-1998 when he tallied just seven points.

He’s done so much since, and it’s hard to imagine that it could be it. Almost as hard as it was for Thornton in 2019-20 when he chose to leave the Sharks in the hopes to win a Stanley Cup. When he failed with Toronto, he received an offer from the Panthers to get another shot at the championship. When he signed a league-minimum $750,000 contract with the Cats prior to this season, Thornton was adamant that the Stanley Cup was the driving factor in his decision to keep playing in Florida.

It is however over… and it might as well sounds like it is also for Big Joe. On Wednesday as the Panthers cleaned out their dressing room, Thornton said: "I have no plans and it's kind of exciting that way."

“I really have no idea. I haven’t put any thought into it at all right now…I’m sure I’ll talk with the family and see what our plan is next.”

If this is indeed the end for Thornton, he will retire with 1,539 points spanning a 24-year career. The future Hall of Famer scored 1,055 of those points with San Jose and maybe could look to join the team in a management role to get that ring in the front offices…