The pair were selected first and second overall by the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks, respectively, in the 1997 NHL Draft and later in their careers they wound up spending more than a decade as teammates with the Sharks. They even won an Olympic gold medal together as linemates on Team Canada in 2010.
Well, now they have another thing in common: they've both signed late-career contracts with the Toronto Maple Leafs after Thornton inked a one-year deal with the team Friday.
Earlier in the day, as rumours of Thornton-to-Toronto began circulating, Marleau, who spent 2017-18 and 2018-19 with the Maple Leafs, was a guest on Sportsnet 590 The Fan's Good Show and he was asked about Thornton and what the star centre can still bring to a team at age 41.
“He does put in the work, he does keep himself in great shape and I think one thing that's always a constant in his game is the size and reach, the way he can protect pucks and obviously his vision, and none of that has changed over his career,” Marleau said. “He still knows where guys are on the ice. He knows where guys are going and that allows him to still be one of the better players on the ice.”
When asked if Thornton had reached out to him to inquire about his time in Toronto, Marleau said, “we’ve texted back and forth,” and added that they had discussed the idea of signing with Toronto together three years ago when Marleau initially joined the Maple Leafs.
“He loves being around the guys,” Marleau said of Thornton’s impact on a locker room. “He loves bringing everybody together.”
Thornton’s love of the game has clearly not dissipated either.
On Thursday, Thornton announced he had joined HC Davos of the Swiss National League to skate with the team until he returns to North American prior to the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.