Sharks GM backs Joe Thornton

BOCA RATON, FL -- After making headlines last week with his incendiary comments about former captain Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson insists the two men have since patched things up.

Wilson said Thornton called him last week after the verbal sparring, which continued with Thornton firing back through the media, and the two resolved the issue.

And despite persistent speculation about whether or not Thornton could be traded, Wilson said Tuesday the veteran center will remain in San Jose.

"Joe's not going anywhere. Joe is a San Jose Shark," Wilson said following Day 2 of the NHL general managers meetings in Boca Raton.

Wilson also said he has not -- and will not -- ask Thornton to waive his no-trade clause.

"He and I have not only a contractual agreement, but a handshake agreement," Wilson said. "As I say, our relationship is extremely strong. I know Joe. I appreciate him. I've known him since the world juniors. I care about him a lot. He knows how I feel about him. I was actually complimenting him and supporting him when I was talking to our season-ticket holders."

That event with Sharks season-ticket holders was precisely what sparked the blowup, when Wilson reportedly told fans that Thornton was stripped of his captaincy because he had a tough time dealing with the pressure.

Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News last week that Wilson was lying and suggested that he shut his mouth. After that, the two hashed things out with what Wilson described was a brief phone call.

"He called shortly after, later that day, and we had a great conversation. He said all the things that I needed to hear," Wilson said. "He and I are at a great place, we're focused on the game upcoming tonight, which is a big game for us. It's one of those things that just happens, but he's a good man."

The relationship between Wilson and Thornton has had some rocky moments, a fact that even Wilson alluded to, though he said the pair have worked things out.

"He and I have had many colorful and creative conversations because we care so much. It's just one of those situations, but we moved on probably two minutes after he called me. That's where we're at," Wilson said.

The outburst of emotions came at a critical moment for the Sharks with the team battling for a playoff spot. Following Tuesday's 5-2 loss in Winnipeg, the Sharks trail the Jets by six points for the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Thornton contributed two assists.

Asked about whether the incident between him and Thornton was concerning, considering the timing of it all, Wilson brushed off the idea.

"Not really, because our team is playing well," Wilson said. "I can't say enough about what Joe has done since the trade deadline. We've got one of the youngest teams in the league, and he's played hard, set a really good example for the young guys, and the performance is we've played some of our best hockey since then. I don't think it impacted anybody because they came and played extremely well against Chicago, it was one of our best starts of the year."

Tuesday's game against the Jets marked the first of a seven-game road trip for the Sharks. A daunting task, but Wilson said he remains confident in his club.

"I like where we're at, I like how we're playing now," Wilson said. "It's going to be a challenge down the stretch. We play Winnipeg tonight. But we knew the transition of this year would have its challenges and its moments."