The Toronto Maple Leafs will soon have their veteran off-season addition in town and ready to finally don his blue and white threads.
After concluding his stint with Swiss club HC Davos, Joe Thornton is travelling to Toronto Monday ahead of the official start to his Maple Leafs tenure.
The 41-year-old put up five goals and 11 points through 12 games with Davos during his tune-up go-round with the club, whom he's suited up for twice before during the NHL's past lockouts (posting 54 points through 40 games during the 2004-05 lockout, and 36 points in 33 games in 2012-13).
Joe Thornton is travelling to Toronto today ahead of the anticipated return of the NHL. He had 11 points in 12 games in his stint at HC Davos. https://t.co/DyxDSZBz5G
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 14, 2020
The former Boston Bruin and San Jose Shark impressed the Davos brass during his most recent return to Switzerland. The club's general manager, Raeto Raffainer, made that clear during a conversation with Sportsnet's Luke Fox in November, heaping praise upon the elderly playmaker.
"A lot of people are laughing: 'He’s so old! Blah, blah, blah.' But the impact he has on the ice, on the game, is still unbelievable," Raffainer told Fox. "We're one of the fastest-skating leagues in the world, and he’s still producing one point per game."
Raffainer, who not only served as Thornton's GM in Davos but has also measured his skill-set on the ice as a former Swiss League opponent, also weighed in on the future Hall of Famer's potential impact in Toronto.
"I studied their depth chart. ... Even though [Thornton’s] faceoff stats dropped a little bit last year, he’ll have an unbelievably large impact on important faceoffs. PP, we don't even have to discuss it. When the coaching staff gives him a role, he’ll be there," Raffainer said. "The question is: Do you want to play him through all the games? He needs to find a way to help the organization jump this first playoff round. They will be smart with him.
"They know exactly what they bought with him. The fire in his eyes and his whole body to win something is going to be huge. And he will help this organization to win, that’s for sure."