Thornton signs with HC Davos in Switzerland

FYI: Jumbo Joe has dual Canadian and Swiss citizenship. Is this his retirement plan?

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This just in, living legend and future hockey Hall of Famer Joe Thornton has signed an "open-ended" contract with HC Davos of the Swiss National League.

Interestingly enough, Thornton holds a Swiss passport due to the fact that his wife is Swiss. The pair met while Thornton played for Davos during the 2005 NHL lockout and they spend their offseasons together in her native country. Of course, all of this has led to the question, "What about the NHL?" Is this the end of Thornton's NHL career? Will he ride off into the sunset in beautiful Davos, Switzerland? 

Not a chance...

According to Sportsnet NHL insider Chris Johnston Thornton will use a brief stint with Davos to prepare for the upcoming NHL season.

Check it out:

That news will certainly as a relief to San Jose Sharks fans... or is it Toronto Maple Leafs fans who should be awaiting Jumbo's return? While Thornton is still technically an unrestricted free agent, it's been more or less a foregone conclusion that he'll sign with the Sharks prior to the season. Or will he? The Leafs are reportedly going all-out to lure Thornton into signing with his hometown Leafs and have gone so far as to have their star players reach out to Thornton directly.

Check out this tidbit from Friedman's most recent "31 Thoughts" column for Sportsnet:

Hearing several core Maple Leafs have personally pitched Joe Thornton on going to Toronto. The courtship is on and the interest is real. But one thing I’ve always been told about the future Hall of Famer: do not underestimate his loyalty to San Jose.

I have to say, it tells you a lot about the Leafs' salary cap situation that they've resorted to having their players personally reach out to free agents in an effort to ice a roster. I'd imagine that Jumbo Joe Thornton isn't the type of guy who can be sweet talked into making a decision. He's either going to sign with the San Jose Sharks or he's going to call it a career, right? I'd be surprised if he signs with the Leafs, but then again where there's smoke there's likely to be fire. So maybe there is mutual interest there? 

What I will say is that if Thornton does indeed sign with the Leafs, I'm excited at the prospect of both he and superstar Auston Matthews on the same powerplay. Thornton may not be the player he used to be, but he's still one of the greatest playmakers in NHL history and with players like Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander on the ice... well there could be some magic there.