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Joe Thornton at the 1997 NHL Draft

Joe Thornton was drafted by the Boston Bruins with the first overall pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Posting a ridiculous 41 goals and 81 assists in a mere 59 games with the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League the season before, Thornton was considered the consensual number one and had all the makings of a superstar.

Five seconds into the clip we get our first glimpse of Thornton. Sporting a mess of hair akin to former teammate and current feather duster Brian Campbell, Joe seems to be dealing with a bad case of chapped lips or possibly cotton mouth due to the nerves draft day. Harry Sinden reaches the podium, and despite an exemplary effort to lull the Pittsburgh crowd to sleep, stumbles into making his selection.

Following hugs from his mother Lynne Marie Stewart and father Peter Forsberg, a short highlight film plays. Thornton is seen showcasing his stellar abilities on the ice, and it is readily apparent from the reel that this young man will one day marry a woman with a name so astronomically confusing no sane human being will ever attempt to spell it.

As the highlights end, Joe is seen wearing suspenders in honor of his childhood hero Larry King. Shaking hands with the Bruins front office brass (including hair fashionista Mike O’Connell, whose woeful attempt at growing a devilock ended his bid to gain entry into the recently reformed punk rock group The Misfits), Thornton puts on a Boston jersey while the crowd politely claps for him.

With the clip coming to a close Bob McKenzie tells a rousing story about Jumbo The Elephant, Thornton speaks with a reporter, and Gary Green engages in his obligatory awkward interview. Clucking like a madman while constantly nodding his head in agreement, one must assume that the cameraman’s decision to slowly cut Green out of the shot was not coincidental, nor a product of Sinden’s enthralling insights.


Epilogue: Patrick Marleau is drafted by the Sharks with the number two pick. Thornton goes on to join the team during the 2005-2006 season in exchange for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart. Analysis of the trade can be found here and here.

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