Dec. 2 has special significance in Sharks lore. It was on that date in 2005 that Joe Thornton debuted for San Jose. And it’s pretty amazing to look back at what he and the team have accomplished in those dozen years since. From the opening draw of his first game — he won it, got a pass back and rang a drive off the goal post nine seconds in — Jumbo Joe has made a lasting impact on the franchise. The Sharks have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs in all but one of Thornton’s 12 seasons with the club. And they reached their first Cup Finals in 2016 with Thornton leading the way. Production and durability have been the hallmarks of his time in San Jose. Thornton continues to climb lists of three all-time NHL categories. He entered Friday on pace to reach 1,046 career assists this season, which would put him 10th all-time — three behind Gordie Howe. He began Friday on pace to reach 16th in points (1,444), which would leave him 13 behind one-time teammate Teemu Selanne. And, without missing any games, he could wind up 17th with 1,528. Thornton, who had an assist in Friday’s game, has appeared in all but 12 of a possible 950 regular-season contests with the Sharks, and in 1,063 out of 1,077 counting the postseason. And don’t think for one minute he’s been healthy for all 99 percent of those games. The big concern was how his left knee would heal following offseason surgery to repair tears to his ACL and MCL. Thornton proclaimed himself fit in camp, put up points in eight of his first 12 games, then seemed to hit a wall offensively with no points in five straight.
Sharks’ Joe Thornton back to his old self
San Francisco Chronicle | Dec 2