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Joe Thornton talked to several teams last summer when he made his first trip to the free-agent market before ultimately deciding to return to San Jose on a one-year deal.
This time there was never any doubt.
”Obviously there were some teams calling [url=http://www.broncoscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-john-elway-jersey]John Elway Jersey[/url] , but I told my agent/brother let’s keep it quiet this year, I want to go back to San Jose,” Thornton said Monday. ”Obviously talking to you guys at the end of the year that’s no secret. I feel this team is just getting better and better. … Our window is always open it seems in San Jose, and it’s a good feeling.”
Thornton signed a one-year, $5 million contract on his 39th birthday, taking a $3 million pay cut from the previous year to help make sure the Sharks have the room to add other top players. Thornton had been willing to take even less had John Tavares decided to take San Jose’s offer instead of signing a $77 million, seven-year deal with Toronto on Sunday.
But Thornton still believes strongly in the group that general manager Doug Wilson, coach Peter DeBoer and owner Hasso Plattner have put together and feels the pieces are in place for that elusive Stanley Cup run.
”It would have been nice to get Johnny, but I think if you look at our team still, Doug and Hasso and Pete, they’ve allowed us to compete every year [url=http://www.billscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-marshall-newhouse-jersey]Marshall Newhouse Jersey[/url] , and I think there’s no difference again this year,” Thornton said. ”We’re going to compete for a Cup. But yeah, I was going to be flexible and will always try to help out the franchise in that way.”
The Sharks also locked up restricted free agent forward Tomas Hertl with a $22.5 million, four-year deal on Monday that buys out the first two years of unrestricted free agency.
Hertl took on a bigger role last season after Thornton went down with a season-ending right knee injury Jan. 23. Thornton had torn the ACL and MCL in his left knee the previous season but said he’s ahead of where he was at this point last summer and expects to be 100 percent at the start of training camp.
Thornton started slowly last season while recovering from knee surgery but was back near his top form by the end of November. He had 11 goals and 15 assists in his final 28 games before the injury.
”I’ve never seen anybody train like this. You look at his birth certificate and it says a number there. But he’s childlike when it comes for his passion and love for the game,” Wilson said. ”He’s had so much time now and was so close to playing that I t6hink he’ll come back way ahead of where he was last year.”
Thornton has been the face of the franchise in San Jose since arriving in 2005, helping the team reach three Western Conference finals and one trip the Stanley Cup Final in 2016.
He ranks 12th in NHL history with 1,030 assists and is 16th with 1,427 points. With seven more games, Thornton will become the 19th player to reach the 1,500-game mark for a career.
The 24-year-old Hertl is just coming into his own after being slowed by knee injuries early in his career. He had a career-high 22 goals to go along with 44 assists this past season and was strong on both ends of the ice.
Hertl was even better come playoff time with six goals and three assists in 10 games. He also won 57.7 percent of his faceoffs. The Sharks are counting on more of that kind of play in the future.
”I just think his best hockey is ahead of him,” Wilson said. ”He truly wants to be a great player. Watching him in the playoffs this year [url=http://www.jaguarscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-dede-westbrook-jersey]Dede Westbrook Jersey[/url] , I think everybody saw him take that step that not only we expected but he expected of himself.”
The Sharks still have one more restricted free agent to sign in forward Chris Tierney.
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this story
TORONTO — The Detroit Tigers will be trying to avoid making more history Sunday afternoon when they face the Toronto Blue Jays on Canada Day at the Rogers Centre.
After Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak smacked a 1-0 fastball from Joe Jimenez for his second career walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday, the Tigers have lost 11 games in a row.
The last time the Tigers put together a losing streak like that was 2003. On Sunday, in the third contest of the four-game series, the Tigers will be trying to avoid dipping deeper into their history by losing 12 in a row for the first time since 1996.
The Tigers will start right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (2-0, 4.35 ERA) against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (10-3, 3.62).
Saturday looked promising for the Tigers when they took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but the Blue Jays came back to tie in the fifth.
Both Toronto wins in the series have been by one run.
“Honestly, nobody wants to play extra innings,” Smoak said. “To be able to do it in the ninth and get it over with is always a good feeling.”
The Tigers would beg to differ. They would have been happy to try their luck in extra innings if that’s what it takes to end their funk.
“We’re all trying hard,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Everybody’s trying. We tried all kinds of things today to try to make this happen. And we were in the game again and ultimately we lose the ballgame.”
The Blue Jays have dominated the Tigers at the Rogers Centre in recent years, winning 12 of their past 14 meetings.
There could be times when it seems as if the Tigers might be trying a little too hard to make things happen and then paying for it. First baseman John Hicks [url=http://www.bearscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-gale-sayers-jersey]Gale Sayers Jersey[/url] , who hit his seventh home run of the season in the second inning Saturday, was not so sure that is the case.
“I don’t think guys are trying to do anything more than we’ve been trying to do all year,” he said. “We’re in a losing streak, but we’re going out every day playing the same way we’ve been playing all year. But when you are losing, things get magnified.”
Losing a close game or a lopsided one does not matter, Hicks said, adding “A loss is a loss.
“They all stink, every loss is frustrating. It just happens to be in a losing streak, so it happens to magnify things more. We’ve had opportunities to win pretty much every ballgame we’ve lost.”
The task Sunday falls to Zimmermann, who will make his 10th start of the season.
Despite pitching five scoreless innings Monday against the Oakland Athletics, Zimmermann did not factor in the decision [url=http://www.brownscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-ricardo-louis-jersey]Ricardo Louis Jersey[/url] , He allowed four hits and three walks and struck out three.
In three career starts against the Blue Jays, Zimmermann is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA. This will be his first start against Toronto since June 8, 2016, when he took the loss, giving up seven runs and eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He will be making his first career start at the Rogers Centre.
Happ has not lost since May 10. In his eight starts since, he is 6-0 with a 2.60 ERA. One of the no-decisions came June 2 in Detroit when he allowed four runs and had eight strikeouts against the Tigers in five innings.
In nine career games (eight starts) against the Tigers, he is 3-1 with a 4.10 ERA.
The Blue Jays lead the season series between the teams 3-2. Two games are left.
Both teams had injuries to relief pitchers Saturday. The Blue Jays put Ryan Tepera on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow and recalled Jake Petricka from Triple-A Buffalo.
Tigers reliever Alex Wilson left the game — and was replaced by Jimenez — in the eighth inning with a strained left calf. He is listed as day to day.
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