Dear Joe Thornton: An open letter from a San Jose Sharks fan

Long time Shark Joe Thornton announced his decision to sign with the Maple Leafs on a one year $700k contract.

Dear Joe Thornton,

It is hard to find the right words to say goodbye, but yet here we are. You are a Shark, and you will always be a Shark for the rest of your life.

When you arrived in the Bay Area, so much optimism entered the franchise. After only playing half a season in teal, you won the Hart Memorial Trophy, and that was just the beginning.

You were the catalyst of the magical years that featured yourself, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Brent Burns, and so many others.

Your skill and leadership led the team to 13 playoff appearances in just 15 years. During that stretch, that’s more appearances than the Islanders, Panthers, and Oilers combined.

The 2016 postseason was a dream come true, and you played a significant role in it. To the tune of 18 assists over 24 games, to be exact.

During your time with San Jose, you registered 804 goals, far and away, shattering every Sharks record in that category. Couple that with your time with the Bruins, you sit firmly at seventh all-time in assists and the only way to go is up.

But that’s the type of selfless player you are, living in a constant pursuit to make your teammates better.

Off the ice and in the locker room, you always stand out, embodying the fun, lovable persona of Jumbo Joe. You are also an established leader and mentor, serving as the captain of the team from 2010-2014.

It was hard to say good-bye to Joe Pavelski. It is even harder to say good-bye to you. With so many seasons under your belt, younger fans like myself don’t even know what it’s like to see a Thornton-less Sharks.

Making your mark on the ice and your fans, you’ve taught us several important lessons.

You showed that sometimes you need to drop the gloves and fight your opponent. You didn’t fight very often, but you made your fight against Ryan Getzlaf memorable.

Opening up an elimination game with that is nothing short of a crowd energizer. You won the fight, but unfortunately, the team lost the game.

But you lost with pride. You’ve shown that you can be disappointed but still exhibit sportsmanship.

On the other end, you showed us how to win, a lot, and have fun with it. Whether it be the Jumbo slide or your face after putting up a hat trick against your former team. You showed us how to have fun, no matter what we do.

Finally, you have shown us how to let go when it is time to do so. In this case, it’s packing up and moving to Toronto.

You know what, that’s okay because you deserve the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. No one in hockey right is more deserving of becoming a champion than you.

Leafs fans, you got a good one. Take care of him and get the cup. We will always cheer you on, Jumbo.

With love,

Sharks fans