Friday, May 12, 2006


Is Joe Thornton due?

That's gotta be a question on the minds of quite a few Sharks and Oilers fans. He won the Art Ross Trophy this season, and is a Hart nominee too, yet he's chalked up a mere 1-5-6 (-2) on 2006 playoff scoresheets.

I've never been much of a fan. For all his mad skillz, he's been a disappointment in the playoffs his whole career, and no one was raving about him at the Olympics either. But, hell, I'm just a mediocre writer who posts on a hockey website during procrastination time. For a more articulate take, the struggles and limitations of Thornton have been chronicled impressively and frequently by professional sports writer, all-star BofA commenter, and Oil SuperFan Colby Cosh. Let's go through a sampling.

May 2003:
You compare the [2002 Olympic] team Gretzky picked for Canada, and you see there's talent at every age level--especially if he'd picked Joe Thornton. (Gretz was given merry hell for leaving him off, but all has been forgiven. In fact, Thornton stayed home from the worlds, perhaps still in a snit over his Olympic non-selection. It's starting to look like the guy may be Canada's personal good-luck charm as long as he stays the hell away from the national side.)

April 2004:
I never imagined that the Habs could be out-imploded, but everything that's being written about the Bruins is true: they played worse with each consecutive chance to eliminate Montreal, and Thornton's gutless display should cost him the captaincy. His lack of mobility is excusable, but his whining to the refs, his visible indifference to the outcome of the game, and his fear of the puck in the offensive zone are not.

December 2005:
>>I feel sorry for all Bruins fans, I cann't believe it Joe Thornton Joe Thornton

I think that last guy just got a good start on a folk song. "Where have you gone, Joe Thornton, Joe Thornton? Where have you gone, our pillow-soft boy?" My take on the trade is in this BoA thread.

That'd be this one:
[...]Point two: Thornton is obviously kind of a jagoff. I do think Boston would have been distinctly better off without him in the playoffs "last year." Yeah, fine, he was hurt (inchoately). We've all seen Doug Weight and Steve Yzerman set the tone despite being hurt. Every facial expression and gesture on Thornton was screaming "We give up" in that Montreal series.

And a little further down:
It's bullshit. Everybody knew at the time that Thornton was hurt--and nobody who was actually watching the series thought it excused him losing his stick and tackling Zednik, repeatedly whining to the refs with the play still live, dodging the puck in the Habs' zone, ostentatiously giving up when his team got behind, and hiding from the media when his teammates were working overtime every day trying to defend him.

Finally, an excellent Western Standard column from that same month, "A Reluctant Superstar" (read the whole thing):
Thornton exemplifies a universal rule of sports: a player possessing an overwhelming talent will always be the de facto leader of his team and will always be held to account for its failings. This is true no matter how well that player performs. [...]

Even before that [Montreal] series, Thornton sometimes had trouble fitting the heavy garb of a superstar. It took him three years to shake the initial suspicion that he would end up as an overhyped bust. He would sometimes try to establish his bona fides by picking fights he couldn't win or by dirty stickwork, costing himself ice time and stumbling over the fine line between guts and stupidity. A couple of years ago he even threatened to retire after an evening of rough handling by the opposition.

And he's always been a little graceless with the media. On the evening of the trade, I heard him on the radio whining sarcastically--literally whining, talking through his nose like a spoiled kid. "I've been consistent all year and scored a point a game almost, I think, but I guess that's not good enough," Thornton told the reporters. "I guess getting rid of me was the answer."

I have to believe that one of these days (years?), Joe will turn in a dynamite playoff performance in spite of himself. Will it come before he's commonly known as Thornton Manning, c/w his own Face? (The Joe Thornton Face is the one you see after a bad loss that says, "That was a tough loss, but at least I still have my millions of dollars and my supermodel girlfriend.") I haven't the faintest idea.


Ahahaha, I just realized something funny. Matt posts this Edmonton anti-karmic thread about how Thornton is due. Thornton's line basically has its best game of the series so far, and the Oilers still win convincingly. Further proof that the Flames and their fans still owe a blood debt to the hockey Gods for overstating their 2003-2004 success.

You took the words right out of my mouth jon. Nice try Fenwick, but no dice.

Despite his appalling grasp of the subject, Fenwick should have known you can't invoke karma by using (completely correct) stuff someone wrote about Thornton before the series. Disinterested historical statements don't tilt the luck plane--it's not like I was thinking "Gosh, I'd better trash Thornton pre-emptively in case the Bruins go apeshit and deal him to the Western Conference two years from now and we end up facing him in the second round."

Thornton's actually had a good series, but his Hart case is in a shambles. You Oiler fans--who would you rather be up against in a best-of-three right now, Kiprusoff or Thornton? It's a silly question, isn't it?

Um, the Flames. Reason: Tony Amonte.

Awww, are you telling me you weren't the slightest bit creeped out 5 minutes in? It looked like it was working!

Also, it was definitely the right play for Toskala to try to beat Samsonov to the puck, the mistake was what he did with it when he got there (looked like he could have wacked it off the boards OR jumped on it).


Did you see this freak spazz and draw a penalty by throwing his stick in Ethan Moreau's armpit repeatedley? Good work, Thorton. Nice game. IT's official: we're still waiting on this creepy, giant jackass.

I thought that was a great play by Ethan. Thorton looked so frustrated by that.

Moreau is probably the player the Sharks hate the most right now.

He would be an absolute bastard to play against. Luckily he is our bastard.

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