Joe Thornton to return to Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday

Jan 16, 2021; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Joe Thornton (97) moves the puck in front of Ottawa Senators goalie Matt Murray (30) in the first period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Thornton said he expects to play on Monday when the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Ottawa Senators after missing 10 games with a broken rib.

“(The injury) was unfortunate, but I feel really good now and I can’t wait to play tomorrow,” Thornton said Sunday. “I’ve got the proper pads and I’ve been taking some light hits and some big hits and medium hits. Right now, I feel really good. I have no restrictions.”

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The 41-year-old Thornton is in his first season with the Maple Leafs, signing a one-year deal after 15 seasons with the San Jose Sharks. He played his first seven-plus seasons in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in 1997.

Thornton returned to practice on Sunday for the first time since sustaining the injury in a 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 20. In five games this season, he has two points (one goal, one assist) while playing primarily on a line with Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner.

His teammates are looking forward to his return.

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“I think it’ll be a big boost, especially with the vibe in the room and team morale,” Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “He just brings a lot. He’s a great player. Obviously, his career speaks for itself and I think he has great leadership and we’re looking forward to having him back.”

Thornton has played in 1,641 games and has scored 1,511 points (421 goals, 1,090 assists). In 2005-06, he won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer with 125 points (29 goals, 96 assists) and also won the Hart Trophy as MVP.

–Field Level Media