Joe Thornton appears eager to sign a contract extension with the San Jose Sharks

thorntonfightsforpuck.jpgThe last two years, I’ve scrounged enough money together to take a hockey-themed summer trip to California. Each time I return to the horrifying, scolding-hot climates of Texas, it’s like getting slapped awake from a glorious dream.

So it’s difficult to even bat an eye at the fact that Joe Thornton is very happy with his life and career in San Jose, something he’d like to continue with a contract extension. Here is more from the Mercury News.

When it comes to the South Bay, Thornton sounds like a man ready to sign a lifetime contract. He and wife Tabea are building a new home in the Los Gatos-Saratoga area. He has a farmhouse in St. Thomas, Ontario, where he grew up, and the couple has an apartment in Tabea’s native Switzerland.

But, he added, “This is where the Thornton family has put down roots.”

And the family has grown with the birth of its first child, daughter Ayla, on July 14.

“He just loves it there,” said John Thornton, his brother and agent. “I could see him spending the rest of his life in San Jose.”

Not exactly playing hard to get in order to drive up the price of his next contract, is he?

Thumbnail image for joethornton.jpgGoing into this off-season, I thought the Sharks had a big mess on their hands with big unrestricted free agents (Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov) along with talented restricted free agents (Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi). Aside from the potentially enormous change that comes with letting Nabokov – their franchise goalie for 10 seasons – leave for Russia, the team kept the majority of their core players together.

They’ll still be a team that depends on their top three forwards (Thornton, Marleau and Dany Heatley) along with a few support guys like Pavelski to carry most of the scoring burden. Their defense might be a little shaky as they didn’t add anyone significant despite losing veteran defenseman Rob Blake to retirement, but don’t be surprised if they are still a contender next season.

Some may still wonder about Jumbo Joe’s postseason moxie, but my guess is that the content spirit Thornton enjoys is more about the lack of clouds in that South Bay sky than complacency. He might not ever win a Stanley Cup to underscore how successful his career truly turned out, but Thornton is one of the best players of his generation.

And while it might be challenging to make such a case wearing teal, it sounds like Joe Thornton will be doing just that as his prime seasons give away to his final twilight years.

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    Trio of Pens forwards take maintenance day on Saturday

    TAMPA, FL - MAY 24:  Chris Kunitz #14 of the Pittsburgh Penguins shoots the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 24, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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    The Pittsburgh Penguins are about as healthy as you can be at this stage of the game. Outside of Trevor Daley (ankle), who’s done for the playoffs, the Pens have their desired roster at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that certain veterans don’t need a little bit of time to recuperate from the grind of the first three rounds.

    On Saturday, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen and Chris Kunitz didn’t participate in practice. Coach Mike Sullivan confirmed that each player had taken a maintenance day.

    The 36-year-old Kunitz and 39-year-old Cullen have surely picked up some bumps and bruises throughout the postseason, while Bonino might still feel the effects of a shot block from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

    Not to worry Penguins fans, Sullivan says that each player should be available for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

    Related:

    Pens enter Stanley Cup Final as favorites: online bookmaker

    Need for speed: Sharks, Pens brace for ‘fast hockey’ in Stanley Cup Final

    Pittsburgh’s run fueled by ‘Baby Pens’

    ‘No question,’ David Backes wants to stay in St. Louis

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 17:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on in Game Two of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 17, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    We don’t always get what we want…but we try.

    In David Backes‘ case, he’d like to remain a member of the St. Louis Blues going forward. It might be difficult to make the numbers work, but the two sides will give it a go.

    Backes, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, scored 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games in 2015-16. The 32-year-old added seven goals and 14 points in 20 postseason games before the Blues were eliminated by the Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

    Re-signing their captain will likely interest the Blues, but can they make it work under the salary cap? St. Louis also has to re-sign RFA Jaden Schwartz and fellow UFA Troy Brouwer this off-season.

    The Blues might have to pick between keeping Brouwer or Backes and that might not work in Backes’ favor. Brouwer is younger, and the fact that St. Louis gave up T.J. Oshie for him just last year could also play a factor in their decision.

    Even if St. Louis doesn’t bring back role players like Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall, they still need to have other players fill those spots on their third and fourth lines, which will eat into their limited cap space.

    If they want to make room for Backes and/or Brouwer, the Blues may have to part ways with a defenseman like Kevin Shattenkirk (one year left at $4.25 million).

    It looks like the Blues might be looking for a new captain in 2016-17.

    ‘It was a lot of ups and downs’: Pekka Rinne’s frustrating 2015-16 season

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    The 2015-16 season won’t go down as the best year of Pekka Rinne‘s career. Rinne started the season off for the Nashville Predators relatively well, as he had a 10-2-3 record from the start of the year through Nov. 17. He had given up two goals or less in 10 of those 15 decisions and it looked like he would have another fantastic year.

    That’s when things fell apart in a hurry.Rinne went on to lose seven of his next eight games. His once promising season was fading.

    The 33-year-old’s season wasn’t all bad. He finished with a 34-21-10 record, but he had a mediocre 2.48 goals-against-average and .908 save percentage. His goals-against-average ranked 19th among goalies who played 40 games or more and his save percentage ranked 26th.

    It’s safe to say the consistency was lacking.

    In the end, his stick paid the price (top).

    “It was a lot of ups and downs,” said Rinne, per the Tennessean. “Personally, I wanted to be better during the regular season. I always have high expectations for myself. I thought that it was hard to get consistency going on throughout the season. I feel like I had a lot of good games, but then (an average game would follow) or something like that.

    “It was frustrating at times. Hopefully, my goal is to raise my level of game to where I need it to be and where I want it to be.”

    Rinne’s numbers didn’t improve in the playoffs (7-7, 2.63, .906), but he did feel more comfortable about his game overall.

    “I’m personally happy with how the season ended for me,” Rinne said. “I thought that I played my best hockey in (the) playoffs. I was able to raise my level of game and the way I played.”

    Is Rinne on the decline or was this just a blip on the radar? We’ll find out, but don’t expect a change of scenery coming for the veteran. He probably won’t be leaving Nashville anytime soon. He has three years remaining on his contract at $7 million per year and the Predators don’t exactly have someone ready to take over.

    Bruins’ Marchand wants to show his doubters that he’s ‘an OK hockey player’

    MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 21: Brad Marchand #63 of Canada and Chris Wideman #6 of USA battle for the puck  at Ice Palace on May 21, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)
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    Bruins forward Brad Marchand had a fantastic 2015-16 NHL campaign. He set new career-highs in goals (37) and points (61), but some were still surprised to see his name added to his country’s World Cup roster on Friday evening.

    Team Canada always has an embarrassment of riches to pick from when assembling their teams, so when players like Taylor Hall and Corey Perry are left off the roster, it leaves some people scratching their heads.

    It was clear from the beginning that GM Doug Armstrong’s decisions wouldn’t be unanimous with fans and media personalities. When there’s that much talent to chose from, several great players will be excluded from the roster. But one thing is clear about the Marchand selection, he’s on the team because he can play.

    “It’s an incredible honor to play for Team Canada. It’s something that I think we all take a lot of pride in, and something that is…it’s not an easy accomplishment,” said Marchand, per CSN New England.

    “I think being part of a team like this is on a different level, and people may give a little more respect to that fact and may look at more of the kind of player I am, other than just the stuff they’ve seen in the past, with the hits and being a pest and stuff like that. Maybe those people will realize that I’m an OK hockey player, and I do play the game as well.”

    Marchand likely won’t figure into a top-six role with Canada, but a partnership with teammate Patrice Bergeron on the third or fourth line definitely isn’t out of the question.

    The Bruins forward has represented his country on five different occasions. Most recently, he helped Canada win gold at the World Hockey Championship in Russia earlier this month. Marchand had four goals and seven points in 10 games for Canada during the tournament.