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Joe Thornton not returning to the Florida Panthers



Florida panthers thornton
Florida Panthers center Joe Thornton battles Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman in what turned out to be Thornton’s final game with the team in Game 4 of the second round of the 2022 playoffs on May 23 in Tampa. — AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

Although it had long been assumed, Joe Thornton will not be returning to the Florida Panthers this coming season based on a goodbye post by his wife on Instagram.

On Wednesday, Thornton’s wife Tabea posted on her private Instagram account that they were moving on.

”South Florida, I loved our time together!” she wrote in the post. “This breakup hurts and I will miss you.”

Thornton, who turned 43 last month, signed a one-year deal with Florida last summer in his quest to chase the Stanley Cup.

He only played in 34 games — the fewest of his 24 NHL seasons — scoring five goals with 10 points.

A healthy scratch throughout the playoffs, Thornton made his lone appearance in the postseason in Game 4 against the Lightning.

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Florida appeared to move on from Thornton when it offered veteran forward Eric Staal a professional tryout.

Staal will join brother Marc Staal at training camp next month and will try and compete for a spot on the team — and likely a similar contract (one year, $750,000) Thornton had last season.

What is next for Thornton is not known.

If he wants to continue playing in the NHL, there may be a team or two who would welcome him perhaps with a PTO.

Thornton may also play professionally in Switzerland where he and his family reside during the offseason.

Thornton played for Davos HC during the past two lockouts.

“These guys played hard each and every night and it’s a long year. It’s a grind,’’ Thornton said on getaway day following the Game 4 loss to the Lightning.

“These guys put a smile on my face every day. They love to come to work and it was easy for me to join this group and for them to allow me to be a part of it was great.”

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