Spezza said he respects Thornton so much that he had to offer the number. And while he certainly appreciated the gesture, Thornton didn't want to take it away from Spezza.
"I couldn't do that to him," Thornton said. "He really is a special guy."
Thornton will wear No. 97 with the Leafs, a number that he's sported in international play throughout his career. He's the first player in Leafs history to don the number.