Joe Thornton returns to ‘home away from home’ in Davos

Joe Thornton
HC Davos
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[Update: Thornton has signed a one-year deal with the Maple Leafs.]

Joe Thornton still plans to play in the NHL for a 23rd season. The question remains will it be back in San Jose, in Toronto, or elsewhere.

For now, a beardless Jumbo will be taking the ice with Switzerland’s HC Davos, the club he’s had an affinity for since playing with them during the 2004-05 NHL lockout. He loves it so much that he’s spent the last 15 summers there and bought a home in the town.

“It’s like my home away from home. I’m comfortable here,” Thornton told MySports.

Thornton will remain there for the foreseeable future as he’ll suit up for Davos beginning this weekend until the NHL figures out a plan for the 2020-21 season. Due to the financial strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he “has agreed that any modest compensation can only be made next season,” per the team.

“I never thought it’d be possible again, but with the circumstances, I’m happy to be back and happy to be playing in Davos again,” Thornton told Swiss publication Blick.

Davos has been good to Thornton. He played for the team during the last two lockouts, met his wife there, and has become a Swiss citizen.

As he stays in game shape in Switzerland, over in North America Thornton has plenty of interest. The Maple Leafs have reportedly expressed a desire to sign him, while there is always the fallback of going home to the Sharks and re-joining old pal Patrick Marleau. At 41, there are only so many more shots left at winning a Stanley Cup, and it was obvious how frustrated he was in February when a trade never materialized.

Are the comforts of home (San Jose) too much to part with to chase a Cup on one-year deals elsewhere? We’ll see, and from the sounds of it, Thornton isn’t looking to hang up his skates any time soon.

“I just love playing hockey, I really do,” he told MySports. “I have a passion for the sport, I like helping other guys. I was born to play hockey and I’ll play as long as I can as long as I’m healthy.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.