Joe Thornton’s Resurgence Keyed San Jose Sharks Season

San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton (19) was very engaged during one of his best seasons James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton (19) was very engaged during one of his best seasons James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Joe Thornton turned back the clock at age 36 and was probably more instrumental than anyone else in the deepest San Jose Sharks run ever.

JOE THORNTON. A. . Center. 82 GP, 19 G, 63 A Playoffs: 24 GP: 3 G, 18 A

This is a continuation of our player reviews of last season. All stats are taken from league and team sources.

Joe Thornton was the best forward for the 2015-16 San Jose Sharks; be sure to check out previous reviews of goalie and blue-line leaders Martin Jones and Brent Burns.

After a down 2014-15 NHL season followed by just four goals and 12 assists in the first 29 games last season, many began speaking in the past tense about Thornton’s greatness. However, the 36-year old (now 37) scored 66 points in the final 53 games to lead the San Jose Sharks to their first-ever Stanley Cup finals.

It was the eight time he led San Jose in points, but the first in three seasons. It was also the seventh time Thornton scored a point per game, but the first time since the 2009-10 NHL season.

He kept up that pace against a difficult Western Conference in the playoffs, scoring three goals and 15 assists in 18 games. He finished the postseason with three goals, 18 assists, 30 hits, 10 blocks, 36 giveaways, 22 takeaways and 127 wins in 247 draws over the 24 games.

Underscoring his importance, Thornton registered a point in every regular season win for the Sharks after American Thanksgiving. He also uses his stick very well for more than scoring, leading the team in takeaways (69) and remaining among the best in the NHL at faceoffs (399 of 753 for 53 percent).

Thornton is finally getting credit as one of the league’s best back-checking forwards. His well-rounded game led to him finishing fifth in the voting for both the Selke Trophy, as the game’s best two-way forward, and the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

Thornton’s value goes beyond what he does on the ice, too. He is beloved by fans, is good with the media and gives the team its most recognizable star. All these things add to his value.

Next: Patrick Marleau Continued To Produce In 18th Season

More importantly, he is loved in the dressing room. He should be commended for his support for the new captain after having the role taken from him and for burying the hatchet over the way it was handled.

He showed why he remained an alternate captain after games, too. He made it obvious that losses were not acceptable without becoming negative. He displayed the importance of wins while giving teammates the credit rather than accepting it from media.

San Jose need not worry about him being worth nearly $7 million next season as his contract expires, but rather getting him signed to an extension. Even if his best years are behind him, he will remain one of the best in the world next season and be at minimum a solid two-way forward past his 40th birthday.