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Doug Wilson

San Jose's Thornton 1 of many veterans key for playoffs

A year after being stripped of his captaincy, publicly feuding with his general manager and missing the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, Joe Thornton has had a renaissance season.

The 36-year-old Thornton is playing his best hockey in years, combining his creative passes with an increased commitment on the defensive end to help lead the San Jose Sharks back to the postseason, where they will open the first round against rival Los Angeles on Thursday night.

"He just keeps getting better," coach Peter DeBoer said. "Everyone's waiting for him to slow down and he keeps showing up at the rink. He's got great legs, he's playing with a lot of jump. A lot of...