When new Leaf Joe Thornton was drafted one of his linemates hadn’t been born

TORONTO — At training camp, the Toronto Maple Leafs top line has an interesting look, with veteran Joe Thornton joining Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

“They’re two special guys and really fun to be around and obviously really talented players so to start with these guys is pretty special,” Thorton says of his new line mates.

The gap in age between Thornton and his teammates, is remarkable.

When Thornton was taken first overall in the 1997 NHL entry draft, Mitch Marner, was just six weeks old. His other new line mate, Auston Matthews, wouldn’t be born until September of that year. 

Thornton says, “Just being around this youthful energy, I think it’s gets me excited and they got a lot of it here.”

Thornton has already had a great chance to get to know some of his new teammates, recently in quarantine for 14 days with line mate Auston Matthews, also Rasmus Sandin, Mac Hollowell, and William Nylander. 

Leafs

Nylander relished the chance to get to know his new teammate, saying “he was unbelievable. I mean you can tell why, spending two weeks with a hall of famer is pretty special.”

Through his career, 41-year-old Thornton has been one of the best in the game. He has been the league’s leading scorer and MVP, winning the World Cup and Olympic gold. Leaf teammates say they are excited to have that experience. 

Winger Zach Hyman says, “He’s definitely a larger than life figure I think in the room, you can, you know when he’s in a room and he brings a great presence.” 

The one thing that has alluded Thornton is the Stanley Cup – and joining a team that has is desperate for playoff success, pressure could be heavy, but that doesn’t seem to be phasing the veteran centre.

Thornton says, “I got no stress man honestly. You know I feel good, I feel comfortable but you know I tend to play with no stress, smile on my face, stay hungry.”

Bridging a gap in age, for a common goal. 

Joe

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