Although there still has not been any kind of official announcement on the part of the National Hockey League as to a start date for the 2021 regular season, all signs are now pointing to the fact that we will in fact be getting NHL games in the very near future.
The latest clue pointing in this direction comes to us via Switzerland of all places and it comes courtesy of HC Davos. On Monday morning the hockey club that competes in the Swiss National League announced that forward Joe Thornton, who had been playing with them during this extended offseason as a result of the pandemic, had left their team.
Every season Thornton spends time in Switzerland where his wife is from, and in the past during NHL lockouts he has played for, and built a relationship with, the HC Davos hockey club. The aging veteran took advantage of that relationship this offseason to get some extra work under his belt, no doubt important training for Thornton who missed the NHL playoffs along with his former team the San Jose Sharks, and has in theory gotten a jump start on training camp as a result.
According to NHL insider Chris Johnston the veteran NHL forward is now traveling to Toronto in anticipation of the NHL's return, which again points to the rumored start date of January 13th for the next NHL season being a reality. Under that scenario teams would begin training camp in the New Year, with the exception of the 7 non-playoff teams who will start a few days earlier, which seems to perfectly fit the timeline for Thornton's return. Thornton will have to quarantine himself for 14 days upon entering Canada and this latest update suggests that his schedule should give him just enough time to do so before training camp kicks off in January with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For those of you wondering how Thornton performed during his time in Switzerland it's hard to judge given that the competition in that league is of a lesser calibur that what you will find in the NHL. That being said Thornton had a strong showing with 11 points collected over 12 games played with HC Davos.