St. Thomas honors hometown hero Joe Thornton with 'Jumbo' banner

Thumbnail image for jumbojoe.jpgWhile many observers will criticize him for failing to earn a Stanley Cup banner, Joe Thornton was honored by the people of his hometown with a big banner at a local rink. The St. Thomas Times has more on the ceremony.

He is arguably the biggest celebrity to hail from St. Thomas.

And, now, Joe Thornton has a permanent banner at the Timken Centre, marking two decades of hockey accomplishments in St. Thomas and beyond. Unveiled on Friday, the four-by-20 foot banner will hang in the upper level of the Timken Centre’s main rink.

While Joe Thornton was unable to attend, his parents, Wayne and Mary Thornton, were on hand for the official unveiling.

“We would just like to thank all of St. Thomas for supporting Joe throughout the years. They’ve been fantastic,” said Wayne Thornton. “All of his friends are here, everybody has been behind Joe to support him, sometimes financially, sometimes with moral support. The whole Thornton family really appreciates what St. Thomas has done.”

After a slow start to his career, Thornton has been among the NHL’s leading scorers – especially in the assists category – for years now. It will be interesting to see if he ends up in the Hockey Hall of Fame once his career is over; while many would penalize him for failing to lead a team to the Stanley Cup, Thonrton already has 931 regular season points. When you consider that he fought through some of the lowest moments of the Dead Puck Era, that’s a pretty impressive total.

He’s also been quite a bit better in the playoffs (at least with the Sharks), than people might realize. Many will never really forgive him for being a perimeter player in a power forward’s body, scoring 47 points in 56 playoff games with San Jose isn’t half-bad.

That’s a debate for another day, though. I’ll leave you with this semi-interesting tidbit which explains that his considerable size isn’t the real reason people call him “Jumbo Joe.”

Years of work and thousands of kilometres travel led to the creation of “Jumbo Joe, Olympic gold medalist and NHL all-star,” Vecchio said. The nickname is a homage to Jumbo, the famous elephant killed in St. Thomas 125 years ago.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

Scroll Down For:

    Devils bolster defense, ink Quincey to one-year, $1.25M deal

    Detroit Red Wings v Columbus Blue Jackets
    Getty
    Leave a comment

    New Jersey needed some blueline depth after this summer’s blockbuster Adam Larsson-for-Taylor Hall trade and now, they’ve addressed it.

    On Wednesday, GM Ray Shero announced the club signed veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey to a one-year, $1.25 million deal.

    Quincey, 31, spent the last four seasons in Detroit, emerging as a regular fixture on defense — but ’15-16 was hardly a positive campaign.

    He missed 35 games with a serious ankle injury and, upon his return, never seemed to find his way into head coach Jeff Blashill’s good graces.

    Blashill even scratched Quincey in Game 3 of Detroit’s opening-round playoff loss to Tampa, and didn’t provide a reason why — a pretty bold move for a player that, in ’13-14, appeared in all 82 games for the Red Wings, averaging nearly 21 minutes per night.

    Overall, this move seems like a pretty reasonable gamble from the Devils. Quincey has his flaws, but the term is short and the money is relatively low.

    (Especially considering Quincey’s coming off a two-year, $8.5 million deal that paid $4.25M annually.)

    Shero could end up getting a nice return on his investment. Quincey projects  to challenge for top-four minutes in New Jersey, looking to break into a group that features the likes of Andy Greene, Damon Severson, John Moore and Ben Lovejoy.

    Jon Merrill, Steve Santini and Brandon Gormley are also in that mix, though likely to be challenging for spots on the bottom pair.

    Boucher: Phaneuf was ‘terrific coup’ for Sens

    TORONTO, ON - MARCH 5:  Dion Phaneuf #2 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 5,2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
    Getty
    Leave a comment

    Safe to say Guy Boucher is a big fan of the trade that brought Dion Phaneuf to Ottawa last season.

    “Phaneuf has made a huge impact,” Boucher said of last season’s blockbuster swap with Toronto, per the Citizen. “It was a terrific coup by the organization being able to bring him in. We definitely, as a team, need that type of leadership — somebody who has been there, has a lot of character, with a voice that has impact.”

    Boucher then confirmed Phaneuf would serve as an alternate captain this season. The 30-year-old will wear it on the road, while Kyle Turris will wear it at home. Veteran winger Chris Neil will be a full-time alternate.

    So Phaneuf is taking on a bigger role, a story in itself considering he took on a pretty large one after joining the Sens last season. In 20 games, he averaged 23:10 TOI — up from the 22:02 he was playing in Toronto — and formed a consistent pairing with young Cody Ceci, the defenseman Ottawa took 15th overall at the 2012 draft.

    Of course, not everybody thought the move was a big win.

    Detractors pointed towards Phaneuf’s contract — a seven-year, $49 million pact that carries a $7 million AAV through 2021. It’s one of the most lucrative deals in the NHL, and gave Ottawa two of the 12 highest-paid blueliners in the league.

    Considering the Sens finished 26th in the NHL last season in goals allowed, that last sentence is a tad embarrassing.

    It was also clear Toronto wanted to make Phaneuf’s contract go away. He wasn’t going to be part of the rebuild and, while he’s still a useful and impactful player, he was a ghost of the team’s past. It was difficult to envision the new wave of Toronto’s young talent taking over, especially with Phaneuf (and Phaneuf’s presence) in the room.

    But that same presence is considered a big plus in Ottawa.

    The hope now, of course, is that Phaneuf will be more comfortable in the Canadian capital, having adjusted to the move and his new surroundings.

    The World Cup seems destined to end with a quiet thud

    TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27: Steven Stamkos #91 of Team Canada blocks Nino Niederreiter #22 shot on net during Game One of the World Cup of Hockey final series at the Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
    Getty
    Leave a comment

    If Team Europe was ever going to make the World Cup final interesting, it was probably going to happen last night. The heavily favored Canadians were bound to come out a bit flat against a non-traditional opponent, and that’s exactly what happened in a less-than-electric Air Canada Centre.

    But despite carrying the play for much of the first period, the underdogs trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes. They would go on to lose, 3-1.

    It could’ve gone a different way, but it didn’t.

    “In the first, I thought that they were better than us for large stretches of the game at times,” said Team Canada’s head coach, Mike Babcock. “I thought they executed and played fast. I didn’t think we moved the puck out of our zone at all tonight, went back and forth. We had guys out there that didn’t talk to one another so actually didn’t play fast and then turned the pack over on entry, so they looked quicker than they were and we probably looked slower than we were.”

    Team Europe’s coach, Ralph Krueger, was left to bemoan what could’ve been, while trying to build on the positives.

    “I thought we could have tested (Carey) Price a lot more with the chances we had, and some of them just died on our own sticks,” he said. “But lots of good things there, lots of effort, and something to build on for Game 2 for sure.”

    The problem for the Europeans is that they’re unlikely to catch their opponents on another off night. Expect a much more motivated, much less sloppy Canadian side in Game 2.

    “For whatever reason, we weren’t as good as we felt we were capable of being, so we’ll fix that and be better,” said Babcock. “You’d like things to be perfect every night, but it’s just not real.”

    Game 2 goes Thursday in Toronto. A Canadian victory and that’s it for the tournament — one that started with a decent amount of positive buzz, thanks to a couple of spirited Canada-U.S. exhibition games and the high-flying exploits of Team North America, but seems destined to end with a quiet thud.

    Unless, of course, the Europeans can find a way to push it to Game 3, but that was always an unlikely scenario. They had a chance to make things interesting on Tuesday. They probably won’t get another.

    Related: Kesler was ‘really disappointed’ with World Cup atmosphere

    Report: Coyotes’ Rieder is considering KHL, among other options

    New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes
    Getty
    1 Comment

    Arizona Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder has a big decision to make. The 23-year-old restricted free agent has been embroiled in contentious contract negotiations for much of the offseason, and now he’s reportedly considering his options.

    According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, those options include taking the Coyotes offer, requesting a trade, signing in the KHL, or sitting out.

    Rieder had 14 goals and 23 assists in 82 games last season for Arizona. Born in Germany, he’s currently representing Team Europe in the World Cup final against Canada.

    Rieder’s agent, Darren Ferris, has said his client won’t attend Coyotes training camp after the World Cup is over — unless, of course, a deal is struck.

    “We’ve made them a fair offer at two years at $2.5 million a year, and they’re unwilling to do it,” Ferris recently told the Arizona Republic.

    The Coyotes have reportedly offered between $2 million and $2.3 million per season on a two-year deal, so it’s not exactly a huge gulf between the two sides.

    Of course, it wasn’t a huge gulf between Vladimir Sobotka and the St. Louis Blues, and look what happened there.