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Joe Thornton

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Joe Thornton
Joe Thornton2
Position Centre
Shoots Left
6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
230 lb (105 kg)
NHL Team
F. Teams
San Jose Sharks
Boston Bruins
HC Davos
Born July 2 1979 (1979-07-02) (age 37),
Lyndale, Ontario, Canada
NHL Draft 1st overall, 1997
Boston Bruins
Pro Career 1997 – present

Joseph Eric Thornton (born July 2, 1979) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre and captain of 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. 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 centres.[2] Listed at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, he has received the nickname Jumbo Joe.

Playing careerEdit

Amateur careerEdit

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 until joining a peewee team that won an Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) championship in 1992–93. Moving on to the bantam level, Thornton joined the "AAA" Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs of the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario for the 1993–94 season. During his bantam year, he also appeared in six games for the Junior B St. Thomas Stars of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA). The following season, he joined the Stars full-time and reeled off 104 points over 50 games.[3]

Beginning in 1995–96, Thornton began a two-year career in the major junior Ontario Hockey League (OHL) 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.[4] 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.[4]

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.[5] 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,[6] 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,[7] 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 to the head. The injury required surgery,[8] keeping him out of the lineup for three games.[4] Thornton's combination of size and skill had him touted as the "next Eric Lindros" when he first entered the league, but following his injury Thornton's style of play changed dramatically from that of a aggressive power forward to more of a finesse player, and his penalty minutes plummeted from that season onward. 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.[9][10]

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.[11] 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. 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.[12] 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.[12]

Joe Thornton - San Jose Sharks - Warmup vs Nashville

Thornton during a pre-game warmup in February 2007.

San Jose SharksEdit

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, 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.[13] 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.

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,[14] for the remainder of the seires 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

In September 2009, before the start of the 2009-10 NHL season, the Sharks acquired Dany Heatley in a three-player trade that sent former Thornton's struggling linemate Jonathan Cheechoo, left winger Milan Michalek and a 2nd 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 2010-2011 season due to post-concussion syndrome. Later in the campaign, he 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.

International playEdit

Canada vs Germany goal celebration crop

Thornton (second from right) celebrates a goal during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Medal record
Competitor for Flag of Canada Canada
Ice hockey
Winter Olympics
Gold 2010 Vancouver
World Championships
Silver 2005 Austria
World Cup
Gold 2004 Canada
World Junior Championships
Gold 1997 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 shutout 3–0 by the Czech Republic.

Thornton made his first appearance in the Winter Olympics in 2006. He recorded 3 points as Canada was shutout 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. 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.

Personal lifeEdit

Thornton is married to Tabea Pfendsack, whom he met while playing in Switzerland during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.[18] The couple has a daughter, Ayla, born on July 14, 2010.[19] 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.[20] Joe and former Sharks teammate Scott Thornton are first cousins.

Off-ice incidentEdit

Thornton was accused of hitting two police officers on May 17, 2003, after coming to the aid of his brother, John Thornton, at the bar Burty Bob's Two in St. Thomas, Ontario. He faced two charges of assaulting police and one of obstructing justice. Crown lawyer Kevin Gowdey announced at a court hearing he would not be pursuing the case against the Bruins captain (at the time) in return for Thornton apologizing to the parties involved and beginning a "significant period of community service." [21]

Career statisticsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1993–94 St. Thomas Stars WOHL 6 2 6 8 2
1993–94 Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs OMHA 67 83 85 168 45
1994–95 St. Thomas Stars WOHL 50 40 64 104 53
1995–96 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 66 30 46 76 53 4 1 1 2 11
1996–97 Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL 59 41 81 122 123 11 11 8 19 24
1997–98 Boston Bruins NHL 55 3 4 7 19 6 0 0 0 9
1998–99 Boston Bruins NHL 81 16 25 41 69 11 3 6 9 4
1999–00 Boston Bruins NHL 81 23 37 60 82
2000–01 Boston Bruins NHL 72 37 34 71 107
2001–02 Boston Bruins NHL 66 22 46 68 127 6 2 4 6 10
2002–03 Boston Bruins NHL 77 36 65 101 109 5 1 2 3 4
2003–04 Boston Bruins NHL 77 23 50 73 98 7 0 0 0 14
2004–05 HC Davos NLA 40 10 44 54 80 14 4 20 24 29
2005–06 Boston Bruins NHL 23 9 24 33 6
2005–06 San Jose Sharks NHL 58 20 72 92 55 11 2 7 9 12
2006–07 San Jose Sharks NHL 82 22 92 114 44 11 1 10 11 10
2007–08 San Jose Sharks NHL 82 29 67 96 59 13 2 8 10 2
2008–09 San Jose Sharks NHL 82 25 61 86 56 6 1 4 5 5
2009–10 San Jose Sharks NHL 79 20 69 89 54 15 3 9 12 18
2010–11 San Jose Sharks NHL 80 21 49 70 47 18 3 14 17 16
OHL totals 125 71 127 198 176 15 12 9 21 35
NHL totals 995 306 695 1001 932 109 18 64 82 104


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1997 Canada WJC 7 2 2 4 0
2001 Canada WC 6 1 1 2 6
2004 Canada WCH 6 1 5 6 0
2005 Canada WC 9 6 10 16 4
2006 Canada Oly 6 1 2 3 0
2010 Canada Oly 7 1 1 2 0
Senior int'l totals 41 12 21 33 10


Joethornton 2006nhlawards

Joe Thornton at the 2006 NHL Awards ceremony.

Major junior



  • Won the Spengler Cup with HC Davos in 2004.
  • Won the Swiss ice hockey championship with HC Davos in 2005.



  • Only player in NHL history to win the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy while switching clubs in his winning campaign - 2005–06
  • Highest point total recorded by a player while playing with two different teams in one season (125) - 2005–06
  • Third player in NHL history to record back-to-back 90 assist seasons, with 92 in 2006–07 and 96 in 2005–06 (combined Boston/San Jose). The other two to accomplish this feat are Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux .

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 McKeon, Ross. "NHL AWARDS / 'Humbled' Thornton named MVP", The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-10-29. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Associated Press. ESPN - Thornton traded to Sharks for three players - NHL. Retrieved on 2008-09-27.
  3. Joe Thornton's NHL Profile. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2011-03-07.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Joe Thornton's TSN Profile. The Sports Network. Retrieved on 2011-03-07.
  5. "NHL LAST NIGHT; Hasek Blanks Anaheim", New York Times, 1997-12-05. Retrieved on 2009-01-21. 
  6. 1997-1998 - Regular Season - Boston Bruins - Skater - Time On Ice - Time On Ice Per Game. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2011-10-22.
  7. 1998-1999 - Regular Season - Boston Bruins - Skater - Time On Ice - Time On Ice Per Game. National Hockey League. Retrieved on 2011-10-22.
  8. "Thornton to have surgery", Boston Globe, 2004-01-22. Retrieved on 2011-10-22. 
  9. Joe Thornton. Retrieved on 2008-09-27.
  10. The best coach in Europe, The Harry Potter look-alike is no wizard; simply a coaching genius, 2009-04-15, SZYMON SZEMBERG,
  11. Scott BurnsideSpecial to ESPN - What will the new NHL look like? - NHL. Retrieved on 2008-09-27.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Felger & Mazz: Ex-GM Mike O’Connell “Glad” Bruins Won Before Sharks", 17 June 2011. Retrieved on 22 October 2011. 
  13. Joe Thornton - Mahalo. Retrieved on 2008-10-05.
  14. NHL - 2007 Playoffs San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings - Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved on 2008-10-05.
  15. Associated Press. ESPN - Three-year extension keeps Thornton in San Jose through 2011 - NHL. Retrieved on 2008-10-05.
  16. Kovalev, Thornton named All-Star team captains
  17. [1]
  18. Pollak, David (December 12, 2008). Bachelor days ending for Thornton, and the latest update on Shark FART. Working The Corners. San Jose Mercury News.
  20. Mark Emmons. "Sharks' Joe Thornton looking to stay in San Jose", September 19, 2010. 
  21. " - Hockey - Prosecutors won't pursue charges against Joe Thornton - Tuesday August 12, 2003 12:24 PM", Retrieved on 2008-10-30. 

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Chris Phillips
1st overall pick in NHL Entry Draft
Succeeded by
Vincent Lecavalier
Preceded by
Johnathan Aitken
Boston Bruins first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Sergei Samsonov
Preceded by
Jason Allison
Boston Bruins captains
Succeeded by
Zdeno Chára
Preceded by
Rob Blake
San Jose Sharks captains
2010 – present
Preceded by
Martin St. Louis
Winner of the Art Ross Memorial Trophy
Succeeded by
Sidney Crosby
Preceded by
Martin St. Louis
Winner of the Hart Trophy
Succeeded by
Sidney Crosby

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