Joe Thornton was probably sound asleep under the Swiss Alps, resting up to open up his 24th professional hockey season, when the CN Tower alit in teal.

The colour long associated with the heart and soul of the San Jose Sharks — all their hopes and disappointments, fun times and funky beards — reflected across his brand-new NHL stomping ground, the one closest to his boyhood house in St. Thomas, Ont.

A Jumbo homecoming signalling Jumbo expectations. And it only required a minimum-wage salary. One year, $700,000 (free of 35-plus performance bonuses), and one more shot at the Stanley Cup dream Thornton has been hunting down for 41 years, 106 days and counting.

His ardent pursuers, the Toronto Maple Leafs, have been chasing the thing for 53 years, 164 days and counting.