Sharks’ Thornton nominated for NHL’s Masterton Trophy

Sharks veteran Joe Thornton has been nominated for the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for the third year in a row.

Thornton is one of 31 candidates for an award given to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

The 40-year-old Thornton is two years removed from a second major knee surgery that sidelined him for the last half of the 2017-18 season and threatened to end his career.

“Jumbo” didn’t show any signs of slowing down in a season overshadowed at times by trade speculation. He was one of five players to appear in all 70 of the Sharks’ games before the season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thornton had 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in an average of 15:30 minutes of ice time per game.

It was also a season of milestones in Thornton’s 15th season in teal. In December, Thornton became the 12th player in NHL history to appear in 1,600 career games. Two months later he recorded his 1,500th career NHL point and his 800th assist as a Shark.

Before the season was halted, the six-time All-Star had moved past Adam Oates for seventh on the NHL’s all-time assist list and moved into the Top 10 in all-time games played (he’s at 1,636, and 1,104 of those are with the Sharks).

He’d like to keep going, too. Thornton, who will turn 41 on July 2, has no intentions of hanging up his skates any time soon, already proclaiming he plans to return in 2020-21.

The Masterton Trophy commemorates Bill Masterton, a former Minnesota North Stars player who died in 1968 following an injury suffered in a game. The winner will be selected from a poll of the 30 chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Associationn. The finalists will be announced later this summer.

The Sharks have produced on Masterton winner, Tony Granato in 1997.

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