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Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2017

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton joined an exclusive list during his team’s 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.

According to Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News, Thornton became the 13th player in NHL history to tally 1,000 assists in a career. It happened when he assisted on Joe Pavelski’s empty-netter with 26 seconds remaining, which proved critical because the Jets answered with a goal in the closing moments.

The Sharks shared the play:


Thornton discussed the historic moment after the game, per the Sharks:


Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com called him an “automatic Hall of Famer,” which is evidenced by the company he is keeping, per Hockey Reference:

NHL Assist Leaders
1 Wayne Gretzky 1,963
2 Ron Francis 1,249
3 Mark Messier 1,193
4 Ray Bourque 1,169
5 Jaromir Jagr 1,142
6 Paul Coffey 1,135
7 Adam Oates 1,079
8 Steve Yzerman 1,063
9 Gordie Howe 1,049
10 Marcel Dionne 1,040
11 Mario Lemieux 1,033
12 Joe Sakic 1,016
13 Joe Thornton 1,000
Source: Hockey-Reference.com

The Sharks shared a video montage looking back at some of Thornton’s passes as well as the man himself with his milestone puck:



Pashelka noted Thornton has reached the 90-assist plateau twice during his career. He notched a career-high 96 in 2005-06 with the Sharks and Boston Bruins on his way to the Art Ross Trophy (league’s leading point scorer) and Hart Trophy (NHL MVP).

Thornton likely won’t tally such incredible numbers this season with five goals and 36 assists, but his team is primed to challenge for a championship behind his playmaking abilities.

The Sharks sit in first place in the Pacific Division and will need plenty of his assists in the postseason as they attempt to win the title after losing last year’s Stanley Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins.



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