While waiting for the NHL to have an established plan, Thornton will play a third stint with HC Davos.
Joe Thornton has a deep-rooted history with the Swiss club that dates all the way back to the early 2000s.
First and foremost, Switzerland is his home during the offseason and has been for a significant amount of time. That is why the announcement does not come as a surprise at all.
The National League, the professional hockey league in Switzerland, starts their season this weekend. Outside of his regular training, Thornton has not seen the ice in seven months.
More than anything else, this is an effort by the Team Teal veteran to continue to stay in shape and generate a competitive environment for himself.
But his connection to Davos, Switzerland, runs much deeper than just that. He met his now-wife, Tabea Pfendsack, during his first stint with HC Davos during the 2004-2005 lockout.
Flash forward to now, the two have been married for 11 years and started a family. His roots with Davos are deeply planted for the rest of his life.
On several occasions, Thornton has said that he would be more than happy to finish his career in Switzerland.
Outside of the sentimental aspects, Jumbo consistently plays well in the National League. In 73 games, he has 90 points.
Part of this decision could also be allowing himself to clear his mind. He has to assess if he even wants to return to the NHL, and if he does, he has to decide where he is going to play.
Outside staying with HC Davos long-term or returning to San Jose, the most like free agency destination is playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For Toronto, this partnership would make a lot of sense if Thornton takes a major pay cut. He would likely serve in the third line, joining a group of centers that includes Auston Matthews and John Tavares.
The alleged report that is going around is that the two have ‘mutual interests,’ which leaves little clarity to the conversations’ seriousness.
Another conversation about a possible landing spot for him is with the Vegas Golden Knights. This is not to upset Sharks fans in any way. Seeing Jumbo in gold would be atrocious.
But beat reporters close to the team have speculated that someday that could become a real possibility. The draw of Peter DeBoer will keep the franchise in the conversation.
Jumbo and his former coach are still incredibly close, so close that DeBoer and him went to a bar together the night Doug Wilson announced he would be fired.
For now, the 41-year old center is enjoying his time training and soon playing with HC Davos.
Upon the announcement of his return, HC Davos’s Twitter was filled with excitement. The tweet was captioned “the legend is back” in Swiss German. Clearly, the club is excited about his latest return to the roster.
Jumbo will enjoy his time on Swiss ice and is in no rush to sign with an NHL team any time soon.