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Joe Thornton

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Joe Thornton
Jthornton.jpg
Born July 2, 1979 (1979-07-02) (age 37)
London, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight 235 lb (107 kg; 16 st 11 lb)
Position Centre
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
San Jose Sharks
Boston Bruins
HC Davos
National team Flag of Canada.svg Canada
NHL Draft 1st overall, 1997
Boston Bruins
Playing career 1997–present

Joe Thornton (born Joseph Eric Thornton on July 2, 1979) is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre who currently serves as alternate captain of the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Joe 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, Joe received the Art Ross and Hart Memorial Trophies as the league's leading point-scorer and most valuable player, respectively. His 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.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, he has received the nickname Jumbo Joe or "Big" Joe Thornton.

Playing CareerEdit

Amateur Hockey CareerEdit

Joe 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.

Joe's 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, Joe joined the Stars full-time and reeled off 104 points over 50 games as a 15 year old 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 actress 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, Joe 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.

The following season, Joe 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.

Boston Bruins (1997–2005)Edit

After his second OHL season, Joe was selected first overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins. He 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.

Coach Pat Burns was measured in his deployment of Joe, 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 Joe 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, Joe saw significantly more ice-time, averaging 15 minutes and 20 seconds per game and improved to 41 points in 81 games as well as a 9-point effort in 11 playoff games. He 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, Joe 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, Joe 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.

Joe's production declined to 73 points in 77 games in the 2003-04 campaign. On January 19, 2004, Joe 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 Joe in the head. The injury required surgery, keeping him out of the lineup for three games.

The 2003-04 campaign also saw a drop in Joe'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 Sharks (2004–05)Edit

After his production decreased to 73 points over 77 games in 2003–04, Joe 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 Joe 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.

With the NHL set to resume in 2005–06, Joe 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.

Joe 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 him the captaincy too early. Regardless, he re-signed with the team on August 11, 2005, to a three-year deal worth US$20 million.

While Joe was off to a strong start production-wise (33 points in 24 games), the Bruins were struggling in the standings. On November 30, 2005, he 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. Joe 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 Joe's San Jose Sharks did.

O'Connell further explained the trade by questioning Joe'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 Patrice.

San Jose SharksEdit

Upon arriving in San Jose, Joe 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, Joe 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 Joe'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, The 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, Joe was honoured for his regular season play and was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP to go with his Art Ross Trophy. He is the only player in NHL history to win the Hart Trophy while playing for two different teams in the same season.

Joe 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 of 2007.

After recovering, Joe 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, Joe became only the third player in NHL history to record back-to-back 90-assist seasons, joining Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Joe 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, Joe was effectively neutralized by Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidström for the remainder of the series as the Sharks were eliminated in six games.

In the off-season, Joe signed a three-year contract extension worth US$21.6 million that, keeping him with the Sharks until June of 2011. In the 2007–08 NHL season, he finished with 96 points (29 goals and 67 assists) to finish fifth in NHL scoring.

In 2008–09, Joe was named captain of the Western Conference for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal. 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.

In September of 2009, before the start of the 2009–10 NHL season, the Sharks acquired Dany Heatley in a three-player trade that sent Joe's struggling former linemate Jonathan Cheechoo, left winger Milan Michalek and a second round pick to the Ottawa Senators. Joe, 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. Joe'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. Joe finished the playoffs with a career-high 12 points in 15 games.

After the elimination, team management vacated all the Sharks' captaincy positions, including Joe'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, Joe signed a three-year, US$21 million contract extension with the Sharks.

Near the start of the 2010–11 season, Joe scored the fourth hat trick of his NHL career against Martin Brodeur in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.

In November of 2010, Joe was suspended two games for a controversial hit to the head against St. Louis Blues forward David Perron. He missed the remaining 72 games of the 2010–11 season due to post-concussion syndrome. On December 3, 2011, Perron returned after missing 97 games over 13 months (394 days).

Later in the campaign, Joe eclipsed Marleau as the Sharks' all-time leader in assists. He 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, Joe 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, Joe 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.

During the 2013–14 season, on November 27, 2013, Joe 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.

Currently, Joe is ranked #49 on the all-time points leaders (1153) and ranked #26 on the all-time assist leaders (817) for the NHL. He is also the San Jose Sharks all-time leader in assists with 532.

International PlayEdit

Medal record
Competitor for Template:CAN
Men's ice hockey
Winter Olympics
Gold 2010 Vancouver Team
World Championships
Silver 2005 Austria Team
World Cup
Gold 2004 Canada Team
World Junior Championships
Gold 1997 Switzerland Team

Joe 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, Joe made his debut with the Canadian men's team at the 2001 World Championships in Germany. He collected a goal and an assist over six games, as Canada was eliminated in the quarterfinal by the United States.

Joe's next international appearance occurred at the 2004 World Cup. Established by then as a premiere player in the NHL, he 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, Joe 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.

In 2006, Joe made his first appearance in the Winter Olympics. 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.

Joe 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. he registered a goal and an assist over seven games, helping Canada to a gold medal finish.

Joe 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.

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

    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
2011–12 San Jose Sharks NHL 82 18 59 77 31 5 2 3 5 2
2012–13 HC Davos NLA 33 12 24 36 43
2012–13 San Jose Sharks NHL 48 7 33 40 26 11 2 8 10 2
2013–14 San Jose Sharks NHL 82 11 65 76 32 7 2 1 3 8
2014–15 San Jose Sharks NHL 78 16 49 65 30
NHL totals 1285 358 901 1259 1051 131 24 76 100 116

InternationalEdit

Year Team Event Result   GP G A Pts PIM
1997 Canada WJC Template:Goca 7 2 2 4 0
2001 Canada WC 5th 6 1 1 2 6
2004 Canada WCH Template:Goca 6 1 5 6 0
2005 Canada WC Template:Sica 9 6 10 16 4
2006 Canada Oly 7th 6 1 2 3 0
2010 Canada Oly Template:Goca 7 1 1 2 0
Junior totals 7 2 2 4 0
Senior totals 34 10 19 29 10

Awards & AchievementsEdit

Major Junior hockeyEdit

  • Named to the OHL All-Rookie Team in 1996.
  • Won the Emms Family Award as OHL rookie of the year in 1996.
  • Named the CHL Rookie of the Year in 1996.
  • Named to the OHL Second All-Star Team in 1997.

NHLEdit

  • Played in the NHL All-Star Game in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009 (captain).
  • Won the Art Ross Trophy in 2006.
  • Won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2006.
  • Named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2006.
  • Named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 2003 and 2008.

SUIEdit

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

InternationalEdit

  • Won a World Junior Championships gold medal with Team Canada in 1997.
  • Won the World Cup of Hockey with Team Canada in 2004.
  • Won the 2010 Winter Olympics gold medal with Canada.

RecordsEdit

  • The 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.
  • San Jose Sharks' all-time leader in assists - 526.
  • Ranked 50th of all-time in the NHL in points - 1146 (as of November 30, 2013)
  • Ranked 30th of all-time in the NHL in assists - 811 (as of November 30, 2013)

Personal LifeEdit

Joe is married to Tabea Pfendsack, whom he met while playing in Switzerland during the 2004–05 NHL lockout. They have two children: a daughter named Ayla (born on July 14, 2010) and a son named River (born on June 6, 2013).

In July of 2009, Joe became a naturalized United States citizen in July 2009 at a ceremony in Campbell, California, a small city near San Jose. Joe and former Sharks teammate Scott Thornton are first cousins.

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