Joe Thornton left jumbo mark on Maple Leafs

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Joe Thornton, whose official retirement last week at age 44, made him the last active NHLer to score at Maple Leaf Gardens back in January of 1999, will help in a management role with Canada’s Spengler Cup team in Davos next month.

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He had played for Davos’ Swiss league team during past NHL labour disputes and married a local girl, Tabea Pfendsack, a businesswoman and children’s author.

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In his one season as a Leaf, the laid-back Thornton made quite an impression on younger Leafs such as Matthews and Mitch Marner.

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“We’d joke about it, him saying ‘I’m never retiring’,” Matthews said with a laugh on Wednesday when asked about a shirtless Thornton announcing his retirement on an iPhone post. “It was awesome, to spend even one year with him (44 games in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season). We keep in touch and talk a lot. I’ve played with a lot of guys who are considered legends of the game (such as) Patrick Marleau, Joe, Jason Spezza, Mark Giordano … they’ve had amazing careers.

“We’ve done a couple of Vegas trips together. He’s so fun to be around, such high energy and he gets everybody involved.

“He was never stressed. Every day was a new day, go out and have fun.”

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