In a recent interview with Toronto media, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas expressed his excitement over signing Joe Thornton and why he thinks the veteran will be a great fit. Dubas specifically points out Thornton’s skill set, leadership, and locker room presence as assets. Check it out:
It makes perfect sense that the Maple Leafs would make an attempt to sign Thornton during the 2020 Free Agency period. Since they were eliminated in the Play-in Round of the 2020 Playoffs, the team has been making moves to add size and be more difficult to play against. Thornton fits both of those areas perfectly. Furthermore, he, alongside fellow offseason additions Wayne Simmonds and Zach Bogosian, will bring a change of culture to the locker room and will hold players accountable. Dubas cited the 41-year-old Thornton’s drive and determination as a selling point and envisions him being a big part of helping the team reach its goal – the franchise’s first Stanley Cup since 1967.
Related: 7 Thoughts on the Joe Thornton Deal
This change of direction feels like a long time coming. The Maple Leafs’ 2020 Playoff exit was the fourth straight year in which they were eliminated in the first round or earlier. For a team that is primed to win, early playoff exits are no longer acceptable, and their players recognize it. With Thornton, and Simmonds and Bogosian, the Maple Leafs have added veterans who have experienced it all and have a history of winning. While Thornton has yet to win a Stanley Cup, he reached the Cup Final with the San Jose Sharks in 2016 and has participated in 17 postseasons.
Whether adding Thornton is enough to push the Maple Leafs over their playoff hurdle remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain, he wants a Stanley Cup and will push his teammates in the right direction to achieve that goal. It’s easy to understand why Dubas is excited.