The reverse retro jerseys aren’t the only throwbacks this year as a number of players who seemed to be on their way out or on a steep decline have decided to turn back the clock.
Joe Thornton: 41 years old
When the Leafs signed Jumbo Joe to a deal it looked like it was more to be a locker room presence and mentor to the young talent than to actually be a scoring threat. Thornton is 41 years old, an age very few players are able to play to and has seen his production steadily decline for the past few years. The future first ballot Hall of Famer is showing that his legendary hockey IQ , quality line mates and perhaps a renewed burst of passion playing for a competitive team were all he needed to get off to a stunning start. At 11 points in his first 12 games, Thornton is producing at a rate we haven’t seen from him in half a decade. The Leafs have looked absolutely dominant this season and one of the greatest players to never win a Cup is going to have another shot at it.
Joe Pavelski: 36 years old
Jumbo Joe isn’t the only one having a great start to the season as his former long-time teammate, Little Joe is continuing his redemption tour. What initially looked like an unsuccessful signing for the Stars has turned into a great one. Pavelski failed to live up to expectations in his first season with Dallas but finally broke out for them during their Stanley Cup run last season. Was this just a momentary flash of a once great scorer? Nope, Captain America is back. Maybe he just needed some time to adjust to playing with a team other than San Jose for the first time in his career. He’s slowed down a little from his almost impossibly hot start but Pavelski is still putting up monster numbers at 10 goals and 20 points through his first 17 games.
Marc-Andre Fleury: 36 years old
Never count this man out. Fleury has proven so many times in his career that if you bet against him you’re going to end up looking like an absolute fool. Once again, all the doubters were there. Fleury was coming off his worst year in Vegas, lost the starting role to Robin Lehner and faced rumours all summer of the team trying to push him out. Well, in standard Fleury fashion he did what he always does and proved that when he’s on his game, he has very few equals. So far this season, Flower has indisputably won back his starting role, gone 11-3, leads the league with 3 shutouts and is putting up career bests in all major statistics.
Jason Spezza: 36 years old
Once a legitimate superstar the years seemed to have caught up to Spezza. The once dominant player gracefully accepted his role as a 4th line faceoff specialist, powerplay guy and mentor for the Leafs young core. There was doubt as to whether he would even be in the league this year after his production has been very minimal for years. Well, Spezza is taking his opportunity to hang around and running with it. Fresh off a 3-assist night, Spezza is sitting at 15 points in 23 games, recently got his first hat trick in 5 years and is more than making the most of his limited ice time. For a guy who looked like he would fall painfully just short of 1,000 career points, Spezza’s push for the legendary mile stone will be fun to watch.
Dustin Brown: 36 years old
The Kings captain has faced a lot of consistency issues in his career but at 36 years old, coming off a weak season I don’t think anyone was expecting too much from Dustin Brown. The rebuilding Kings have been surprisingly competitive this year and that’s in big thanks to their veteran core who have all been playing great. Through 21 games Brown is having the most productive season of his career averaging 0.81 points per game and his advanced stats support that he’s having a great year.