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Sharks go on without Thornton after the free agent leaves for Maple Leafs

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The San Jose Sharks are preparing for a future without Joe Thornton, who played with them for the past 15 seasons before signing a $ 700,000 one-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.

“We need to restore our game,” said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Sunday. Joe, at the age of 41, looks at the runway and the opportunity [to win the Stanley Cup]. I fully understand that. But we as an organization have experienced this before and we returned quickly. It’s up to us to get to work, come back to it and learn from what happened last year. “

The Sharks (29-36-5, .450 point percentage) finished 15th in the Western Conference last season. They advanced to the Western Conference final in 2019, losing in six games to eventual Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues.

Wilson said a big positive coming in this season is the defender Erik Karlsson and further Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl are healthy. Karlsson missed the last 13 games of 2019/20 after breaking his thumb. February 14th. He scored 40 points (six goals, 34 assists) in 56 games. Couture (39 points; 16 goals, 23 assists in 52 games) was injured when a puck hit him in the face against the Colorado Avalanche on March 8 and missed 17 games (January 9 – February 23) with a broken ankle. Hertl (36 points; 16 goals, 20 assists in 48 games) underwent surgery on January 29 for a torn ACL against the Vancouver Canucks.

Goalkeeper Devan Dubnyk was acquired in an exchange with the Minnesota Wild on October 5 and onward Patrick Marleau signed a one-year contract on October 13. The 41-year-old is first in Sharks’ history in games played (1,551), goals, (518) and points (1,102), and second in assists (584) behind Thornton (804). ).

Come on Matt Nieto signed a one-year contract on October 13 after scoring 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 70 games for the regular season and three points (goal, two assists) in 14 games after the season for the Avalanche. San Jose also signed again Stefan Noesen on a one-year contract on October 9.

“We have five forwards in the top six, guys who have scored 30 goals or nearly 60 points, we need someone to come in and compete for that spot,” said Wilson. “I like our defense. I want to leave a spot for some of the younger guys. We think we have the bones of a good team. We have some competition. A few young guys are coming in.”

Thornton, who was traded to the Sharks by the Boston Bruins on November 30, 2005, leaves San Jose leader in assists, second in games (1,104) and points (1,055) and fourth in goals (251). He scored 1,509 points (420 goals, 1,089 assists) in 1,636 games over 22 seasons with the Sharks and Bruins.

Wilson said Sharks veterans know to lead a turnaround, but it’s also time for younger players to take a bigger role and learn from the Thornton set as an example.

“Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc“It’s their time,” said Wilson. They have to go to the next level.

“We have to be the sum of all our parts. There are teams in this league that have lost some good players. Some teams lost their best players in their prime and they found their team game, they found their collective connection and had a lot of success. We need everyone to bring something to the table, learn from what happened last year, restore our game and bring that love, the juice and the energy that ‘Jumbo’ brought to the rink. ”



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