The National Hockey League named the remaining 67 players to its top 100 on Friday night, and Joe Thornton was not one of them. Sportsnet reported they would earlier this month, the NHL named six current players to its top 100 list: Sidney Crosby, Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Alex Ovechkin, and Jonathan Toews.
Thornton was not listed among the possibilities in Sportsnet’s initial report, so is exclusion isn’t too much of a surprise. That doesn’t make it any less of a head-scratcher.
As SportsNet’s Stephen Burtch points out, when adjusting for era, Thornton is fifth in career assists and 11th in points. Without era adjustments, he is 13th in assists and 24th in points. Only three players (Doug Gilmour, Marck Recchi, and Dale Hawerchuk) have more points than Thornton and were left off of the list.
He’s also won a Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. Of course, individual achievements seem to have taken a back seat to team accomplishments, particularly when it comes to the active players on this list.
For instance, Evgeni Malkin, another snub, has scored more points in his career and per game in the regular season and the postseason than Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The difference, of course, is that Malkin has won only two Stanley Cups, compared to Toews and Kane’s three.
Simply put, Thornton’s exclusion is incredibly difficult to justify. He’s in the top 25 in points (and climbing), despite playing in an era where goaltending is at its best and scoring is at its lowest. But, as Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshnyski put well, Thornton’s exclusion is “the best example of [the list’s] slavish commitments to Stanley Cup dynasties and American-born players.”
Despite Thornton’s omission, there are players in the top 100 with ties to the Sharks. Director of Player Development Larry Robinson was among the players from the 1970s named to the list. Teemu Selanne, who played with the Sharks from 2001-03, was included in the 2000s contingent.