How Patrick Marleau Helped Sell Joe Thornton By Joining The Maple Leafs

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When he had to decide where his life and career would take him next, Joe Thornton didn’t do it alone. He sought advice and insight from those he knew best and from those who knew what it was like to leave a town they had called home for most of their working lives.Few people tick these two boxes better than Patrick Marleau. In the 1997 NHL Draft, the duo were selected first and second overall by the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks respectively, and have spent more than a decade of their most productive playing years as as teammates on the Sharks.

But for the choice Thornton faced this month as to whether to leave the Bay Area and join the Toronto Maple Leafs or not, it was Marleau’s firsthand experience of what it is. than signing an end-of-career agreement north of the border which had a special resonance.

“Loved it, he loved it,” Thornton said in an appearance Monday on Sportsnet’s Tim and Sid, when asked what Marleau told him about his experiences in Toronto. “He said it was a first class organization, they treated the players really well – whatever you need, they really take care of the players. I almost went with him a few years ago. [to Toronto] and that just didn’t happen. But he had nothing but good words to say about the whole Leaf organization. ”

Although this hypothetical team never saw the light of day in 2017, and Marleau himself moved twice in the years that followed, the impression Toronto left on him remained – both as an organization. and on the ice.

« [When] I spoke to Patty Marleau, Patty Marleau said [it’s a] “Great group of young players, they are ready to work, ready to listen,” said Thornton, considering the hockey situation he would play in and his role. “Whatever they need, I’ll be there. for them. ”

But, at 41 and with a Stanley Cup-sized vacancy on his Hall of Fame resume, the decision to don the white and blue jersey was more than being a mentor or landing with an organization. respected.

The flame is still burning. And growing up in southern Ontario, just a freeway drive from the Maple Leafs’ mecca, Thornton hasn’t lost at all what it means to deliver a Cup to Toronto.

“When you’re a young boy you play street hockey, it’s the Stanley Cup, you know? That’s why you play hockey, ”Thornton said. “It’s the little child in me that I still have at the age of 41. It’s a big, magical thing that I want to bring to Leaf Nation now.

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