Thursday, August 21, 2014

Joe Thronton Jersey Card

Yes, I shall continue the streak of jersey cards because one of the two bits of news I'd expected all summer that hadn't come yet finally has: the San Jose Sharks have stripped Joe Thornton of his captaincy. (For the record, the other one involves Cam Ward moving to a team in black and gold).

But back to the team in teal, and what some observers are calling ''a (very public) nervous breakdown'':
The strangest part in all of this? Stripping Thornton's ''C'' came nearly five years to the day of losing his alternate captaincy back in 2009, when the Sharks also took away Patrick Marleau's ''C''. That shakeup came after a massive playoff disappointment (sound familiar?) in which the Sharks won 53 regular season games before getting bounced in the opening round by Anaheim. That led (head coach) Todd McLellan to overhaul his entire leadership group (sound familiar?) and go into training camp with no captains or alternates (sound familiar?).
This, after GM Doug Wilson promised to clean house and rebuild, then opted not to (or at least just let some second-tier veterans go). Someone's stepping on someone else's toes; someone's going to lose their job over a decision they went along with but didn't make themselves.

Thornton is 35. Can he be The Guy, The Franchise, the difference maker? No, and he never was, and perhaps it shouldn't have been expected of him.

Is he an elite player? Yes, he's still one of the best passers in the league, and still gets close to a point per game late in his career.

He hasn't won in the NHL, but when used as a spare part by a team that could afford it (Team Canada), he has won gold at the Olympics (2010) and the World Cup (2004). Like Dave Andreychuk, he might end up winning the Cup in his last season as a third-liner on an actual contender rallying around him for that final victory lap.

Or maybe he's like Eric Lindros: really good, just not what people expected, and just that notch under what it takes to be the guy who carries a team (and/or be in the Hall). For the record #2: I think Joe Thornton is a much better more accomplished player than Lindros, because he jumped at the chance to be merely a role player (Canada 2010 versus Canada 2006, i.e. ''Mega-Fail'') for the greater good and his team.

Speaking of Canada, here he is wearing his country's white (''home'') uniform, and judging by the ads on the helmet and jersey, either from the Spengler Cup or the World Championships, from Upper Deck's 2013-14 SP Game-Used Edition, card #TC-JT of the Team Canada Fabrics sub-set, with a game-worn matching white swatch:
I prefer my international uniforms without the Zepler ads, but at least they help in placing the athlete in the right context...

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