It’s dangerous to look at trades in a vacuum. Judging a move based solely on the players involved – rather than context clues such as salary issues and rebuilding efforts – is often unfair to the GMs.
There’s no sane way to say that the Boston Bruins directly benefited from trading Joe Thornton. None of Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart or Wayne Primeau made a serious impact for the team.
That being said, one could argue that trading Thornton forced the Bruins to a) commit to other players such as Patrice Bergeron and b) to transition from their old, flawed way of thinking. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty advanced such an argument today.
Since I object to the “Jumbo Joe is a choker” talk, the only strong bullet point is that Thornton’s departure helped to open up cash for Zdeno Chara. It’s possible that the Bruins’s salary structure wouldn’t have been big enough for the two of them, especially when you throw Tim Thomas in the mix.
So maybe in an abstract way, the Thornton trade ended up being a blessing in disguise.
Bruins fans shouldn’t “thank” Thornton for that 2011 Stanley Cup win, though. Instead, the credit should go to Chara, Thomas and GM Peter Chiarelli – three people who had next to zero connection to Thornton’s days in Boston.
Perhaps Bruins fans should start a “Thank you Chia” chant instead, then.