On November 30th, 2005 the San Jose Sharks changed forever with the acquisition of one Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins. We look back at seven years of Jumbo's effortless passing, physical dominance and questionable ventriloquism.
Fourscore and seven years ago (minus the fourscore) this evening, the San Jose Sharks sent seismic waves throughout the hockey world. Between periods of their tenth consecutive loss, the team dealt Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau to the Boston Bruins for Joe Thornton in what remains the biggest trade of the club's 21-year history. Here are the events as they unfolded on that historic day (official trade announcement 3:25 into the video):
Thornton has now played more games in a Sharks sweater than he did as a Bruin, compiling over 1000 points in a career that deserves to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. In honor of Jumbo's seven years in teal, here's our take on the top seven Joe Thornton moments in Sharks history, complete with stupid titles:
7. Pull My Finger
Canucks captain Henrik Sedin was the only player to even approach the same stratosphere as Joe Thornton in recording assists between the 2005 and 2012 lockouts, registering 474 to Thornton's 493. So maybe it was smoldering resentment due to that fact, maybe it was vengeance for Vancouver ousting the Sharks in the Western Conference Final the prior spring or maybe Jumbo just hates Swedish people. Whatever the case, tensions between the two imploded in hilarious fashion during a game last December.
6. Pummeling Private Ryan
With his President's Trophy winning Sharks on the brink of playoff elimination against the eight-seed Anaheim Ducks, Thornton took matters into his own hands (or fists, as it were) in this memorable fight with Ryan Getzlaf right off the opening draw in Game 6. No matter how you feel about fighting in hockey, you have to admit seeing the two best centers in the Western Conference at the time drop the gloves was pretty awesome. Getzlaf hadn't faced an opponent this formidable since his historic bout with male-pattern baldness.
5. Turning Up The Heat
This isn't exactly a highlight that gets talked about in the same hushed tones as some of the other events on this list but few games strike me as being as illustrative of Thornton's borderline ridiculous on-ice vision and talent as this one. With Steve Yzerman, Kevin Lowe and other members of the Team Canada brass in attendance to scout players for the 2010 Olympic roster, Joe Thornton assisted on all three goals of Dany Heatley's hat trick. Which in itself wouldn't be entirely notable if it wasn't for the way he threads a miniscule needle on the first goal and then does the exact same thing on the second.
4. Miracle Against Miikka
Thornton's assists have always been more memorable than his goals, mostly because he doesn't score many since he rarely shoots the puck. But this one was special; with the Sharks tied 2-2 in the late stages of a game they had to win lest they fall behind three games to one in their first round series against Calgary, Thornton tipped a Douglas Murray shot past Miikka Kiprusoff with ten seconds left to win the game, drive a stake through the heart of the whole "playoff choker" narrative and give his former coach and mentor Mike Keenan nightmares for years to come.
3. Dethroning the Kings
And then, of course, there's the biggest goal Thornton ever scored as a Shark. In a series where he didn't do a whole lot apart from blowing a kiss to a Sharks fan in the Staples Center crowd, Thornton ended the Los Angeles Kings' upset bid in overtime of Game 6.
2. Slaying The Dragon
The always-boiling rivalry between the Sharks and Red Wings took on even more mythic proportions when Todd McLellan defected to the San Jose bench after winning a Cup with Detroit in 2008. The Sharks wouldn't have the chance to avenge their embarrassing 2007 playoff loss to Detroit until 2010 when the two teams finally met again in the postseason. What resulted was easily Joe Thornton's best playoff series ever, capped by this beautiful tape-to-tape pass to Patrick Marleau to clip the Wings in five games.
1. Hart & Soul
But still, none of Thornton's tricks have yet to top his first one. After being traded to the west coast on that late November day in 2005, Jumbo turned the team's fortunes upside down, transforming them not only from a conference basement dweller that Thanksgiving to a playoff seed in the spring but irreversibly changing the franchise's expectations of itself forever. He was awarded for his efforts that initial season, becoming the first player in league history to win the MVP trophy after being traded mid-season, but has made a similarly huge impact on the Sharks in the seven seasons since.
Here's to seven more.