Joe Thornton joins Swiss club HC Davos, plans to return to NHL

NHL insider Elliotte Friedman joins Hockey Central to discuss what the tea leaves are saying about the Maple Leafs pursuits of Joe Thornton, says they’ve definitely made a pitch to him, but don’t under-estimate his loyalty to San Jose.

Future Hall of Famer Joe Thornton has joined HC Davos of the Swiss National League but hasn't closed the door on an NHL return.

According to a statement from Davos, translated from German by Sportsnet using Google Translate, Thornton will return to North American once the 2020-21 NHL season resumes.

"Due to the currently tense economic situation at the Hockey Club Davos, Joe Thornton has agreed that any modest compensation can only be made next season," the translated statement reads.

Thornton, who holds a Swiss passport, has been training with Davos since July. He's played for the club during the past two NHL lockouts and has 22 goals and 90 points in 73 career National League games.

"It's a great honour that Joe has chosen to appear for the HCD for a third time in his incredible career," Davos coach Raeto Raffainer said in a translated statement. "And what I saw from him in training, he is absolutely capable of helping our team athletically. His kick-off, his puck control and his pass quality is still at an extremely high level. It will be a great pleasure for all hockey fans to see him play on Swiss ice again."

The 41-year-old is currently an unrestricted free agent in the NHL. While a return to the San Jose Sharks, who he's played with for the last 15 years, is possible, Sportsnet's Elliotte Freidman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are also interested in adding the St. Thomas, Ont., native.

"Hearing several core Maple Leafs have personally pitched Joe Thornton on going to Toronto. The courtship is on and the interest is real," Friedman wrote in his latest 31 Thoughts blog. "But one thing I’ve always been told about the future Hall of Famer: do not underestimate his loyalty to San Jose."

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