Prior to his move from the San Jose Sharks to the Toronto Maple Leafs during free agency, veteran center Joe Thornton consulted a Bay Area legend, who was all too familiar with moving from the Bay Area to play professional sports in another city.
“I actually talked to Joe Montana” Thornton said, according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski. “I think Joe gave me some good advice. He just talked about leaving San Francisco and going to Kansas City,”
“I had so many people I talked to over the last week. I’m just blessed I had a chance to talk to some great people. He was one guy who offered me some good advice,” Thornton said.
Thornton, 41, signed a one-year deal with the Leafs back on Friday, and is currently skating with HC Davos in the Swiss National League in preparation for the upcoming NHL season.
The decision to sign with Toronto brought his 15-season tenure with San Jose to an end.
“The emotions I feel are appreciation and reflection. It’s hard to put into words what Joe meant for this franchise over 15 seasons,” San Jose general manager Doug Wilson said. “I think there are very few players in pro sports that can alter a franchise the way he did.”
Thornton reflected on his time with San Jose fondly.
“They loved me and I loved them right back,” Thornton said. “The Shark Tank was one of the best buildings to play in, and we had a lot of memories there.”
“It was probably the hardest hockey decision I ever had to make. But with the roster [the Maple Leafs] have, the guys that they picked up this offseason, they’re ready to win now and I’m ready to win,” Thornton said.