Though Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets didn't help the San Jose Sharks' cause in the NHL's Pacific Division title chase, the contest marked team captain Joe Thornton's 1,200th NHL regular-season appearance, per the Sharks' official site.
Including Thornton, 99 skaters and one goalie (Martin Brodeur) have hit the 1,200-game milestone. Thornton's NHL journey began when the Boston Bruins made him the first overall selection in the 1997 entry draft. Though Thornton recorded just seven points in 55 games as a rookie in 1997-98, he has since developed into one of the league's premier playmakers, thanks to his excellent blend of size, smarts and skill.
Acquired by the Sharks on Nov. 30, 2005 in a lopsided trade that sent Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart to the Bruins, Thornton has now played in 668 games with San Jose, recording 735 points in the process.
To date, the 6′4″, 220-pound center is just shy of a point-per-game clip for his career, having notched 1,189 points overall. Among active players, only Jaromir Jagr (1,748) and Teemu Selanne (1,454) top Thornton in that category. In the assist department, Thornton—who has 847 helpers to his credit—trails only Jagr (1,044).
At 34 years of age, Thornton continues to play at a high level for the Sharks, having recorded 71 points (including 60 assists) in 75 games this season, which puts him one point behind Joe Pavelski for the team's scoring lead.
With seven games left on the Sharks' regular season slate, Thornton figures to hit the 850 career assist mark before the conclusion of the 2013-14 campaign. Moreover, with 342 NHL goals under his belt, he's also on track to hit the 350-tally milestone next season.
Included on Thornton's individual resume as a player is an Art Ross Trophy, as the NHL's leading scorer in 2005-06, as well as a Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's MVP that same season. He also earned an Olympic Gold medal, while representing Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics, but through 1,200 NHL contests over a distinguished pro career, Thornton has yet to hoist a Stanley Cup.