Joe Thornton, the hockey player, is not who he pretends to be. He is a sham. He is not a superstar. He may not even be a star. He is a guy who can put regular season points on the scoresheet. Period. He’s not a leader of men. He’s not an inspiration. He is a sham.
Thornton, who played major junior with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, was chosen first overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He’s six-four and racked up 122 points in his final year of junior. Perfect first choice for Boston. Except they forgot to measure heart. And guts. And the ability to step up.
Thornton coasted through seven-and-a-half seasons in Boston. His head coaches were Pat Burns, Mike Keenan, Robbie Ftorek, Mike O’Connell and Mike Sullivan. Not coincidentally, it was general manger Mike O’Connell who’d finally seen enough of the Thornton Float Parade and sent big Joe to San Jose on November 30, 2005 for, get this, Wayne Primeau, Brad Stuart and Marco Sturm. They might as well have received a bag of pucks.
Thornton continued his strange ways in San Jose, actually being named the Hart Trophy winner in the season he was traded to SJ. That’s absurd. How can the league’s most valuable player be traded in the middle of a season? He sure as hell wasn’t valuable to the Boston Bruins. They’d seen enough. And the betting here is that the Sharks will soon reach the same conclusion.
Thornton has all the physical tools required to make him an elite player, but with his 113-point Sharks in a very familiar position – sucking in a playoff series they should be winning handily – Joe needs to deliver more. He needs to dominate! On the ice. Off the ice. Everywhere. With the puck. Without the puck. Frankly, he needs to work his ass off to take San Jose past the Colorado Avalanche.
Through 186 minutes of the Colorado series, Thornton has two assists. Way to step up, Joe! I get that the opposition puts its shut-down unit against your line. So what? Figure out a way to get around that. At his peak, the Chicago Blackhawks used to glue Steve Larmer to Oilers’ centre Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky would simply go and stand by another Blackhawks’ player (other than Larmer). Effectively, that made the rest of the ice a four-on-three in the Oilers’ favour. That’s how to think, Joe.
I get that Avs’ netminder Craig Anderson is playing fantastically, but Thornton – once again – can’t summon the brain power to figure out how to pull his boys up by the bootstraps. Then again, if Sharks’ head coach Todd McLellan saw a bootstrap, he might try to hang himself with it.
Get it going, Joe! Stop coasting through games. Stop helping make the Sharks the laughing stock of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And have a word with Dan Boyle about not putting the overtime winner in his own net.