Joe Thornton

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Joe Thornton
Joe Thornton2.jpg
Thornton in pregame warmups before a game against the Vancouver Canucks in 2007
Born(1979-07-02) July 2, 1979 (age 35)
London, ON, CAN
Height6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Weight220 lb (100 kg; 15 st 10 lb)
NHL team
Former teams
San Jose Sharks
Boston Bruins
HC Davos
National team Canada
NHL Draft1st overall, 1997
Boston Bruins
Playing career1997–present
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For the scientist, see Joseph Thornton (biologist).
Joe Thornton
Joe Thornton2.jpg
Thornton in pregame warmups before a game against the Vancouver Canucks in 2007
Born(1979-07-02) July 2, 1979 (age 35)
London, ON, CAN
Height6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Weight220 lb (100 kg; 15 st 10 lb)
NHL team
Former teams
San Jose Sharks
Boston Bruins
HC Davos
National team Canada
NHL Draft1st overall, 1997
Boston Bruins
Playing career1997–present

Joseph Eric Thornton (born July 2, 1979) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre playing for the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was selected first overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft and went on to play seven seasons with the club, five as its Captain. During the 2005–06 season, he was traded to the Sharks. Splitting the campaign between the two teams, he received the Art Ross and Hart Memorial Trophies as the league's leading point-scorer and most valuable player, respectively.[1] Thornton's on-ice vision, strength on the puck, deft passing ability, and power forward style of play have led to him becoming one of the league's premier top line centers.[2] Listed at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, he has received the nickname Jumbo Joe or "Big" Joe Thornton, or even "The Hammer."

Playing career[edit]

Amateur career[edit]

Thornton grew up playing minor hockey in his hometown of St. Thomas, Ontario, for the St. Thomas Travelers. He played "AA" hockey for the Travelers and in peewee won an Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) championship in 1992–93.[3][4] His Bantam year was the first for the newly created "AAA" Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs organization, and Thornton joined the "AAA" Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs of the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario for the 1993–94 season. The creation of this organization led to the St. Thomas Minor Hockey Association to compete at the "A" level. During his bantam year Joe appeared in six games for the Junior B St. Thomas Stars of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA), scoring 8 points in six games as a 14 year old. The following season he joined the Stars full-time and reeled off 104 points over 50 games as a 15 year old,[5] and was subsequently drafted second overall in the 1995 OHL draft to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds behind Daniel Tkaczuk who was selected by the Barrie Colts. Joe, along with Rachel McAdams, is a highly regarded citizen by the people of St. Thomas and has contributed to the community for the duration of his career.

Beginning in 1995–96, Thornton began a two-year career in the Ontario Hockey League with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He posted a 76-point season in his first year, earning both OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year honours.[6] The following season, Thornton improved to 41 goals and 122 points, second overall in league scoring behind Marc Savard of the Oshawa Generals, and was named to the OHL Second All-Star Team.[6]

Boston Bruins (1997–2005)[edit]

After his second OHL season, Thornton was selected first overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins. Thornton suffered a fractured arm in the Bruins' preseason but made their roster for the 1997-98 campaign. He scored his first NHL goal on December 3, 1997, in a 3–0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.[7] Coach Pat Burns was measured in his deployment of Thornton, using him almost exclusively on the fourth line and making him a regular healthy scratch. Averaging eight minutes and five seconds of ice time per game over the course of the season,[8] he registered three goals and seven points in 55 games as a rookie. In the 1998 playoffs, Thornton went scoreless in six games.

In 1998-99, Thornton saw significantly more ice-time, averaging 15 minutes and 20 seconds per game,[9] and improved to 41 points in 81 games, as well as a 9-point effort in 11 playoff games.

Thornton continued to build into a key player in the Bruins' lineup, increasing his points total in each of the following two campaigns. Prior to the 2002–03 season, he was named team captain, succeeding Jason Allison, who had left for the Los Angeles Kings in 2001; the captaincy position was vacant for a full season after Allison's departure. In his first season as team captain, Thornton recorded 68 points over 66 games. The following year, he notched his first career 100-point season with 36 goals, a career-high, and 65 assists. He ranked third in league point-scoring, behind Peter Forsberg of the Colorado Avalanche and Markus Näslund from the Vancouver Canucks.

Thornton's production declined to 73 points in 77 games in the 2003-04 campaign. He suffered a fractured right cheekbone in a fight with Rangers center Eric Lindros during a game on January 19, 2004. The two power forwards fought after Lindros cross checked Thornton in the head. The injury required surgery,[10] keeping him out of the lineup for three games.[6] The 2003-04 campaign also saw a drop in Thornton's goal-scoring production that has never rebounded, as his last 30-goal season remains the 2002-03 season.

HC Davos and trade to San Jose (2004–05)[edit]

After his production decreased to 73 points over 77 games in 2003–04, Thornton went abroad to play for HC Davos of the Swiss National League A due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout. He played on a line with fellow NHL players Rick Nash and Niklas Hagman, helping HC Davos to a league championship and Spengler Cup win. Since then Nash and Thornton keep a close contact to Arno del Curto and HC Davos, Thornton returns every summer to train for up to a month with the club.[11][12]

With the NHL set to resume in 2005–06, Thornton became a restricted free agent in the summer of 2005 and was reportedly unhappy with the state of the Bruins franchise, as well as the criticism of his play in the Bruins' early playoff exit in 2004.[13] Thornton was under heavy scrutiny for his leadership style and was criticized for being unable to raise his level of play during the playoffs. Many people felt that Bruins coach Robbie Ftorek gave Thornton the captaincy too early.[by whom?] Regardless, Thornton re-signed with the team on August 11, 2005, to a three-year deal worth US$20 million.

While Thornton was off to a strong start production-wise (33 points in 24 games), the Bruins were struggling in the standings. On November 30, 2005, Thornton was traded to the San Jose Sharks in a four-player deal, which sent forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau and defenceman Brad Stuart to Boston in exchange for the Bruins captain.[2] Thornton was the team's leading scorer at the time by a substantial margin.

Then-Bruins general manager, Mike O'Connell, later stated in a June 2011 interview that he "would still make the trade," and that it was "satisfying" to see Boston win a Stanley Cup before Thornton's San Jose Sharks did.[14] O'Connell further explained the trade by questioning Thornton's character both on and off the ice at the time, contrasting him with Patrice Bergeron, who was in his second full season with the Bruins when the trade took place. O'Connell recalled making the decision with assistant general manager Jeff Gorton to alternatively build the team around Bergeron.[14]

Thornton during a pre-game warmup against the Nashville Predators in 2007.

San Jose Sharks[edit]

Upon arriving in San Jose, Thornton improved the Sharks' fortunes and found instant chemistry with winger Jonathan Cheechoo. During the absence of usual alternate captain Alyn McCauley from the San Jose lineup, Thornton donned the "A" for the first time as a Shark in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes on March 30, 2006,[citation needed] and wore the "A" whenever McCauley was out of the lineup for the remainder of the season. Tallying 92 points in 58 games with the Sharks after the trade, Thornton finished the season with a league-leading 96 assists and 125 points total to earn the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer. He became the first player to win the award while splitting the season between two teams. Due to Thornton's success, Cheechoo also enjoyed a career-season, winning the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's top goal-scorer with 56 markers. In the playoffs, however, Thornton was once again criticized for his play as his production decreased to 2 goals and 9 points in 11 games as the Sharks were ousted in the second round. In the off-season, Thornton was honoured for his regular season play and was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP to go with his Art Ross Trophy.[1] He is the only player in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy while playing for two different teams in the same season.

Thornton began the 2006–07 campaign being awarded permanent alternate captaincy, but struggled in the first half of the season while suffering from a toe injury that did not heal until January 2007.[15] After recovering, Thornton enjoyed a productive second half, battling Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby for a second consecutive scoring title late in the year, eventually finishing 6 points behind Crosby with 114. With a league-leading 92 assists, Thornton became only the third player in NHL history to record back-to-back 90-assist seasons, joining Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.[16]

Thornton began the 2007 playoffs by recording six assists in the Sharks' first-round series against Nashville. Advancing to the second round against the Detroit Red Wings, he notched a goal and three assists in the first three games of the series. However, Thornton was effectively neutralized by Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidström,[17] for the remainder of the series as the Sharks were eliminated in six games.

In the off-season, Thornton signed a three-year contract extension worth US$21.6 million that, keeping him with the Sharks until June 2011.[18] In the 2007–08 NHL season, Thornton finished with 96 points (29 goals and 67 assists) to finish fifth in NHL scoring. In 2008–09, Thornton was named captain of the Western Conference for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal.[19] He completed the season with 86 points. In the subsequent post-season, he recorded a goal and four assists in six games as the Sharks were eliminated in the first round by the Anaheim Ducks.[20]

In September 2009, before the start of the 2009–10 NHL season, the Sharks acquired Dany Heatley in a three-player trade that sent Thornton's struggling former linemate Jonathan Cheechoo, left winger Milan Michalek and a second round pick to the Ottawa Senators. Thornton, Heatley, and Sharks captain Patrick Marleau were joined on the Sharks' top line and enjoyed immediate offensive success together. The trio helped the Sharks to one of their best regular seasons in franchise history. Although the line's production slowed down in the second half of the season, all three Sharks players finished in the league's top 15 in point-scoring. Thornton's 89 points ranked eighth, while his 69 assists were second to Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks. Marleau and Heatley finished 14th and 15th in league scoring with 83 and 82 points, respectively. The Sharks entered the 2010 playoffs as the first seed in the West for the second consecutive year. After advancing past the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings in the first two rounds, the Sharks were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals. Thornton finished the playoffs with a career-high 12 points in 15 games.

After the elimination, team management vacated all the Sharks' captaincy positions, including Thornton's role as one of the alternate captains. Prior to the 2010–11 season, he was chosen to replace the retiring Rob Blake as the eighth captain in team history on October 7, 2010. Nine days later, he signed a three-year, US$21 million contract extension with the Sharks. Near the start of the 2010–11 season, Thornton scored the fourth hat trick of his NHL career against Martin Brodeur in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. In November 2010, Thornton was suspended two games for a controversial hit to the head against St. Louis Blues forward David Perron. David Perron missed the remaining 72 games of the 2010–11 season due to post-concussion syndrome. Perron returned after missing 97 games over 13 months (394 days) on December 3, 2011. Later in the campaign, Thornton eclipsed Marleau as the Sharks' all-time leader in assists. Thornton scored his 1,000th career point with a goal in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes on April 8, 2011.

In the 2010–11 season, Thornton scored only 70 points in 80 games, his lowest point production since the 2001–02 season, when he had 68 points in 66 games. However, he reached a new career high in playoff points with 17, notably scoring the series clinching goal in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings.

In the 2012–13 season, Thornton played in all 48 regular season and 11 playoff games with San Jose, and led the Sharks in points and assists with 40 and 31, respectively.[21]

During the 2013–14 season, on November 27, Thornton scored the game-winning goal in a shootout against the Los Angeles Kings, his first shootout goal since December 18, 2007 against the Anaheim Ducks.[22]

At the end of 2013-14, Thornton ranked #46 on the all-time points leaders (1194) and #24 on the all-time assist leaders (852) for the NHL. He is also the San Jose Sharks all-time leader in assists with 567.

On August 20, 2014, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan announced that the team would be starting training camp for the 2014-2015 season without any captain. He said that Thornton would be a candidate for the captaincy along with the rest of the players.[23]

Contract extension/2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs stunner[edit]

On January 24, 2014, Thornton signed a 3-year contract extension with the Sharks through the 2017 NHL season.[24]

Thornton would finish the 2013-14 NHL season with 11 goals and 65 assists as the Sharks amassed 111 points, just six short of their franchise's all time high mark, and were among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup.

Facing their in-state rival Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Thornton and the Sharks won the first two games in dominating fashion and then put the Kings on the brink of elimination in Game 3, winning in overtime. However, Los Angeles would soon stun the Sharks by becoming only the fourth team in NHL history to win a playoff series after trailing three games to none. Thornton's devastated facial expression following the seventh and deciding game gained national attention.[25] He finished the playoffs with just two goals and an assist.

International play[edit]

Canada vs Germany goal celebration crop.jpg
Thornton (second from right) celebrates a goal during the 2010 Winter Olympics as his San Jose teammate Patrick Marleau (#11) joins in.
Medal record
Competitor for  Canada
Men's Ice hockey
Winter Olympics
Gold2010 Vancouver
World Championships
Silver2005 Austria
World Cup
Gold2004 Canada
World Junior Championships
Gold1997 Switzerland

Thornton was named to Canada's national under-20 team for the 1997 World Junior Championships in Switzerland. Underaged at 18 years old, he recorded four points in seven games, helping Canada to a gold medal. Two years later, he made his debut with the Canadian men's team at the 2001 World Championships in Germany. Thornton collected a goal and an assist over six games, as Canada was eliminated in the quarterfinal by the United States.

His next international appearance occurred at the 2004 World Cup. Established by then as a premiere player in the NHL, Thornton tied for third in tournament scoring with six points (a goal and five assists) over six games. He notched two assists in the championship game against Finland, helping Canada to a 3–2 win. At the 2005 IIHF World Championship in Austria, Thornton led all scorers with 16 points (6 goals and 10 assists) in 9 games and was named tournament MVP. Canada advanced to the gold medal game, where they were shut out 3–0 by the Czech Republic.

Thornton made his first appearance in the Winter Olympics in 2006. He recorded 3 points as Canada was shut out in three of six games, losing to Russia in the quarterfinal. Four years later, he was again chosen to Canada's Olympic team for the Winter Games in Vancouver. Thornton was joined by his Sharks linemates Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau, as well as Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle on the squad.[26] The offensive trio of Sharks played on the same line in the Olympics, as well. Thornton registered a goal and an assist over seven games, helping Canada to a gold medal finish.

Thornton was later invited to the Canada's hockey camp for the 2014 Winter Olympics, but did not attend due to his son River being hospitalized with an illness.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Thornton is married to Tabea Pfendsack, whom he met while playing in Switzerland during the 2004–05 NHL lockout.[28] The couple have a daughter, Ayla, born on July 14, 2010,[29] and a son, River, born on June 6, 2013.[30] Born in London, Ontario, Thornton became a naturalized United States citizen in July 2009 at a ceremony in Campbell, California, a small city near San Jose.[31] Joe and former Sharks teammate Scott Thornton are first cousins.

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

  Regular season Playoffs
1993–94St. Thomas StarsWOHL62682
1993–94Elgin-Middlesex ChiefsOMHA67838516845
1994–95St. Thomas StarsWOHL50406410453
1995–96Sault Ste. Marie GreyhoundsOHL6630467653411211
1996–97Sault Ste. Marie GreyhoundsOHL594181122123111181924
1997–98Boston BruinsNHL553471960009
1998–99Boston BruinsNHL8116254169113694
1999–00Boston BruinsNHL8123376082
2000–01Boston BruinsNHL72373471107
2001–02Boston BruinsNHL66224668127624610
2002–03Boston BruinsNHL77366510110951234
2003–04Boston BruinsNHL7723507398700014
2004–05HC DavosNLA4010445480144202429
2005–06Boston BruinsNHL23924336
2005–06San Jose SharksNHL58207292551127912
2006–07San Jose SharksNHL82229211444111101110
2007–08San Jose SharksNHL82296796591328102
2008–09San Jose SharksNHL822561865661455
2009–10San Jose SharksNHL792069895415391218
2010–11San Jose SharksNHL8021497047183141716
2011–12San Jose SharksNHL821859773152352
2012–13HC DavosNLA3312243643
2012–13San Jose SharksNHL4873340261128102
2013–14San Jose SharksNHL821165763272138
NHL totals1207342852119410211312476100116


YearTeamEventResult GPGAPtsPIM
Junior totals72240
Senior totals3410192910


Joe Thornton at the 2006 NHL Awards ceremony.

Major junior





See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McKeon, Ross (2006-06-23). "NHL AWARDS / 'Humbled' Thornton named MVP". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-10-29. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b Associated Press. "ESPN - Thornton traded to Sharks for three players - NHL". Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Joe Thornton's NHL Profile". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  6. ^ a b c "Joe Thornton's TSN Profile". The Sports Network. Retrieved 2011-03-07. 
  7. ^ "NHL LAST NIGHT; Hasek Blanks Anaheim". New York Times. 1997-12-05. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  8. ^ "1997-1998 - Regular Season - Boston Bruins - Skater - Time On Ice - Time On Ice Per Game". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  9. ^ "1998-1999 - Regular Season - Boston Bruins - Skater - Time On Ice - Time On Ice Per Game". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  10. ^ "Thornton to have surgery". Boston Globe. 2004-01-22. Retrieved 2011-10-22. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Joe Thornton". Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  12. ^ The best coach in Europe, The Harry Potter look-alike is no wizard; simply a coaching genius, 2009-04-15, SZYMON SZEMBERG,
  13. ^ Scott BurnsideSpecial to "ESPN - What will the new NHL look like? - NHL". Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  14. ^ a b "Felger & Mazz: Ex-GM Mike O’Connell "Glad" Bruins Won Before Sharks". 17 June 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Joe Thornton - Mahalo". Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  16. ^ "The NHL Arena > Joe Thornton #19". Retrieved 2008-10-05. [dead link]
  17. ^ "NHL - 2007 Playoffs San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings - Yahoo! Sports". Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  18. ^ Associated Press. "ESPN - Three-year extension keeps Thornton in San Jose through 2011 - NHL". Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  19. ^ Kovalev, Thornton named All-Star team captains
  20. ^ [1]
  21. ^ "2012-13 Season Infographic - 6/25/2013". San Jose Sharks. 2013-06-25. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  22. ^ McKeon, Ross (2013-11-28). "Sharks nip Kings in eight-round shootout". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  23. ^ Pollak, David (August 20, 2014). "Sharks take away Thornton's captaincy; Raffi Torres out indefinitely". Mercury News. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Thornton & Marleau Agree to Three-Year Extensions". San Jose Sharks. 2014-01-24. Retrieved 2014-01-24. 
  25. ^ "Sharks' Joe Thornton had the saddest moment of the NHL playoffs". USA Today. 2014-05-01. Retrieved 2014-05-04. 
  26. ^ Burnside, Scott; LeBrun, Pierre (2009-12-30). "Breaking down 2010 Canadian team". ESPN. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  27. ^ Pashelka, Curtis (2013-08-26). "San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton cancels trip to Canadian Olympic camp". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2013-08-26. 
  28. ^ Pollak, David (December 12, 2008). "Bachelor days ending for Thornton, and the latest update on Shark FART". Working The Corners. San Jose Mercury News. 
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Mark Emmons (September 19, 2010). "Sharks' Joe Thornton looking to stay in San Jose". Contra Costa Times. 

External links[edit]