One of the National Hockey League's most recognizable figures may actually start his next season in a league outside of the NHL, and outside of North America all together.
On Saturday night during the first day of the live telecast of the NHL's Qualifying Round of the playoffs, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman made some very interesting comments regarding one Joe Thornton. Although he did not come out and say it outright, Friedman strongly hinted at the possibility that Thornton could look to sign a deal in Switzerland in order to keep himself in shape for the upcoming 2020 - 2021 NHL season, and perhaps even as a way to get an edge over his peers at the young age of 41 years old.
What is interesting here is that Thornton has very strong ties to Switzerland so this is a situation that would actually make a great deal of sense. During the lockout of the 2004 - 2005 NHL season Thornton actually went to Switzerland and played for HC Davos, and it was during that time that he met Tabea Pfendsack, the woman that would go on to become his wife and the mother of his two children. Thornton did not merely meet his wife in the country however, he also returns there every single year before the start of training camps in the NHL, and the belief now is that he may simply choose to extend his stay a little longer due to the fact that his San Jose Sharks likely won't be playing any games until at least December.
As far as working out a contract in the Swiss League, that likely would not be a problem for Thornton either. The NHL has stated that it will allow players currently under NHL contract to sign new contracts in Europe as long as they contain NHL out clauses, something that would open the door for Thornton to sign in Switzerland. Additionally Thornton has strong ties to HC Davos having played for them during the aforementioned lockout in 2004 - 2005, but he also returned to that team during the 2012 - 2013 lockout and played for them then as well.
Don't be surprised if you see Jumbo Joe signing with a Swiss team sometime this summer.