Joe Thornton perfected the art of helping other guys score goals. Now he is on the shortlist for NHL players who have done it 1,000 times.
The San Jose Sharks centre became the 13th player in league history to reach the 1,000-assist milestone with a secondary helper on Joe Pavelski's empty-net goal that sealed a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.
To put the accomplishment into perspective, here is the list of players who have more career apples than Jumbo Joe:
Wayne Gretzky (1,963), Ron Francis (1,249), Mark Messier (1,193), Ray Bourque (1,169), Jaromir Jagr (1,142), Paul Coffey (1,135), Adam Oates (1,079), Steve Yzerman (1,063), Gordie Howe (1,049), Marcel Dionne (1,040), Mario Lemieux (1,033), and Joe Sakic (1,016).
The 37-year-old Thornton did reached the feat in his 1,433rd NHL game -- No. 900 with the Sharks, no less.
He has posted two 90-assist seasons in his 19-year career and has eight seasons with at least 60. Henrik Sedin (774) and Jarome Iginla (672) are the closest active NHL assist leaders behind Thornton and Jagr.
Patrick Marleau, a team-mate of Thornton's since 2005, has benefited the most from his passing prowess, scoring 120 goals with a helping hand from number 19.
Joe Pavelski (113), Jonathan Cheechoo (89), Glen Murray (70), and Brent Burns (50) also have Thornton to thank for a good chunk of their goals.