Joseph Eric Thornton (born July 2 1979, in London, Ontario, Canada) is a professional ice hockey center in the National Hockey League. He was drafted by, and played seven seasons for the Boston Bruins before being traded to his current club, the San Jose Sharks. His on-ice vision, deft passing ability, and power forward style of play have led to him becoming one of the league's premier top line centres. Thornton is the NHL's reigning Hart Trophy winner.

Early life

As a child, Joe Thornton lived in a suburb of St. Thomas, Ontario known as Lynhurst. A sign that stands there today proclaims the neighborhood to be his native community. He attended Southwold Public School just outside of St. Thomas, and later attended Central Elgin Collegiate Institute in St. Thomas.

Playing career

Drafted 1st overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins, Thornton played six seasons for the Bruins, his best season coming in 2002-03 when he had 101 points.

After a fight in a nightclub in St. Thomas, Ontario in the summer of 2004, he was charged with assault of a peace officer and ordered to serve community service.

During the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Thornton played for Hockey Club Davos with fellow young Canadian star Rick Nash and won the Swiss ice hockey championship.

2005-2006 season

After Thornton voiced his unhappiness with his contract in Boston in 2005, many teams reportedly sent offers to the Bruins. However, Thornton re-signed with the team on August 11, 2005, for a three year deal worth US$19.8 million. On November 30, 2005, Thornton was traded to the San Jose Sharks in a blockbuster four player deal, which sent forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau and defenseman Brad Stuart to Boston. Thornton was the team's leading scorer at the time by a substantial margin and many felt that Bruins GM Mike O'Connell had dealt away one of the few player who was truly showing an exemplary effort. On January 10, 2006, Thornton returned to Boston as a member of the Sharks, but was ejected for checking Bruins' defenseman Hal Gill from behind at 5:13 of the first period. Thornton received a five minute major and a game misconduct. The misconduct was later rescinded by the NHL.

Upon arriving in San Jose, Thornton improved the Sharks' fortunes. Thornton made an immediate impact with 14 points in his first 6 games and found instant chemistry with winger Jonathan Cheechoo, often setting up Cheechoo for one-time shots in the slot. With Thornton as his centreman, Cheechoo became a 50-goal scorer and won the Rocket Richard Trophy. Thornton himself would lead the NHL with 96 assists and win the Art Ross Trophy as leading NHL scorer, the first player to do so the same season he was traded. The 2005-06 playoffs saw Thornton in a familiar scenario as past postseason campaigns he has been a part of. He was never able to produce points as he was in the regular season and there was a startling lack of chemistry between Thornton and Cheechoo. Joe recorded 4 assists in a five-game quarterfinals series against Nashville and had 2 goals and 3 assists in the semifinals series against Edmonton, a series that the Sharks lost in 6 games.

Leadership issues

Thornton was under heavy scrutiny for his leadership while in Boston. He was criticized for being unable to raise his level of play during the playoffs, as he never scored more than nine points in two series or finished with a plus/minus rating higher than +1. Many people feel that Robbie Ftorek gave Thornton the "C" too early. Nonetheless, Thornton did tremendously in his new role in San Jose, as he put up career numbers in his first season with the Sharks. His success translated into Thornton becoming the MVP of the league.

During the absence of usual alternate captain Alyn McCauley from the San Jose lineup, Joe Thornton donned the "A" in a game against Phoenix on March 30, 2006. He served in this role off-and-on since then. Many critics expected Thornton to fare better in San Jose where leadership duties would be falling primarily to captain Patrick Marleau. This proved to be the case, as Thornton won the Art Ross Trophy handily, while Marleau still finished with 86 points. Thornton scored at a slightly cooler rate in the playoffs, posting two goals and seven assists in eleven games, but unlike in Boston his performance was not worthy of criticism; the Sharks' TV announcers emphatically proclaimed him the teams's best player on the ice even in the games the Sharks lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the second round of the playoffs.

Thornton was selected to play for Team Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics and was expected to be key member of the Canadian National Team. However, he only scored one goal in six games and finished -1.



                                            --- Regular Season ---  ---- Playoffs ----
Season   Team                        Lge    GP    G    A  Pts  PIM  GP   G   A Pts PIM
1995-96  Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds OHL    66   30   46   76   51   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  Davos                       Sui    40   10   44   54   80  14   4  21  25  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


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Joe Thornton

Position: Center

Team: San Jose Sharks

Uniform Number: 19

Years in League:

Age: 26

Height: 6' 4"

Weight: 235

Shoots: Left

College/Junior Team: Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Selection: 1st overall Pick 1997 NHL Draft

Drafted By: Boston Bruins

NHL Debut: 1997-98

Salary: $6,660,000.00

Date of Birth: 7/2/1979

Place of Birth: London, Ontario, Canada

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