Sharks’ Thornton out ‘several weeks’ with right MCL injury

With the unofficial first half of their season coming to a conclusion Thursday, the Sharks are preparing themselves for yet another playoff push.

But San Jose (26-14-7) will be without veteran forward Joe Thornton for “several weeks,” according to general manager Doug Wilson.

Wilson said Wednesday that Thornton sustained a right MCL injury in Tuesday’s 5-4 OT loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Further tests will be conducted to evaluate the extent of the injury.

With 45 seconds left in regulation, Thornton collided with teammate Mikkel Boedker in the neutral zone while trying to slap the puck back into the Jets’ zone. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound forward’s right leg buckled forcing him to hobble to the Sharks’ bench and immediately into the dressing room.

Head coach Pete DeBoer had little information regarding Thornton’s status after the game, but did express concern:

“He doesn’t leave unless, you know, we all know him. So, not a good feeling.”

Thornton has played in all 47 games this season and is second on the team in points, with 36 (13 goals, 23 assists).

Thornton sustained a similar injury in the 2016-2017 season when he partially tore both the ACL and MCL in his left knee, forcing off-season surgery. But he has bounced back this season after collecting just three goals and 28 assists through the first half of last season.

Wilson said Thornton’s absence will be felt:

“He’s such an inspirational guy. What he’s done is he’s kind of inspired those other guys to step up, and now they need to step up even more.”