Hockey fans own plenty of go-to punching bags, but Joe Thornton’s supposed playoff woes are a near-universal favorite. There’s at least one group of people who are unlikely to bash Jumbo Joe, though: the wingers he made rich.
With Thornton’s 1,000th game in the books, here’s a look at some of the guys who should’ve given him a serious cut of their checks.
Sergei Samsonov: More than half of the speedy Russian’s career goals came in Boston. That is not a coincidence. It’s possible that Samsonov received so many chances to turn his career around because people dreamed that he’d find his old magic, but that magic came from someone else.
Glen Murray: Murray went from a solid 29-goal scorer with the Los Angeles Kings to a two-time All-Star with the Bruins, where Thornton helped him score a career-high 92 points. Murray never topped 62 without Jumbo Joe.
Jonathan Cheechoo: “The Cheechoo Train” is the most obvious example of The Thornton Effect. Cheechoo won the 2006 Maurice Richard Trophy after he scored 56 goals thanks to Thornton’s gigantic year. Now he’s relegated to minor league indignity.
Patrick Marleau: Obviously, Marleau was a great player before Thornton – the player who was drafted ahead of him in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Still, his game jumped to a higher level with Thornton; the speedy forward posted a career-high 44 goals on a line with Jumbo Joe in 09-10. Even if they haven’t always lined up together, Marleau benefited from easier defensive matchups – all five of his highest goal scoring years came after the Thornton trade.
Thornton’s Hall of Fame worthiness is up to debate, but making average guys into stars (and stars into superstars) shows that he deserves a lot more respect.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.