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“Haven’t put any thought into it” – Joe Thornton undecided about return to 25th NHL season

Joe Thornton's average ice time of 11:06 with Florida was the lowest of his NHL career.

Joe Thornton

Florida Panthers forward Joe Thornton said he hasn’t decided yet whether he wants to return for a 25th National Hockey League (NHL) season. The Ontario native ice hockey player, who turns 43 on July 2, has played a career-low 34 games this season. 

Thornton was a healthy scratch for all but one of their 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He played 6:18 in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday where his side conceded a 2-0 defeat at Amalie Arena in Tampa to complete a four-game sweep of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round.

“I haven’t put any thought into it at all right now,” Thornton said on Wednesday, as quoted by NHL.com. “I think it’s still so quick. I wasn’t expecting that. It took me by surprise, so I’m sure I’ll talk with the family and see what our plan is next. I haven’t decided if I’m going to play or not, but we’ll talk and see how everybody’s feeling about it. We’ll see.”

“Privileged to play this game for a long time”

Joe Thornton

Earlier, Thornton finished the regular season with five goals and five assists into 12th place in NHL history with 1,539 overall points. The 10 points were his second-fewest in the tournament, ahead of the seven (three goals, four assists) he had in 55 games for Boston Bruins as an 18-year-old rookie back in 1997-98. 

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It’s a long year and a grind, and these guys put a smile on my face every day,” he said. “They just love to come to work. It was easy for me to join this group and for them to allow me to be part of it was great.

“I feel like I’ve been privileged to play this game for a long time, so I don’t take anything for granted. But I never think what ifs, to be honest with you. I just kind of try to live in the moment and go from there.”

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