Friday, September 6, 2019

Joe Thornton Jersey Card

(As per years past, this is a twin-post with my "regular" blog, where I predicted the San Jose Sharks would finish third in the Pacific Division in 2019-20).

"Jumbo" Joe Thornton will be back with the Sharks this coming season, outlasting "Little" Joe Pavelski (now with the Dallas Stars), as he signed a $2M, one-year deal earlier today. It was inevitable: if he were to continue playing, it would and could only have been with the Sharks, who had a roster spot conveniently still open for him.

At this point of his career, at age 40, he should find his rightful place centering the third line behind the younger Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture and, although he posted 51 points in 73 games in 2018-19, it would be foolish if not unfair to expect more than 40 points from him in that role. I'd also expect him to miss 10-15 games from the nagging pain of injuries past and just to get some rest on  a few back-to-back games.

I still cheer for him never to win a Stanley Cup, but there is no denying that he - along with, say, Jason Spezza, Sidney Crosby, Andrei Markov and Nicklas Lidstrom - is one of the best playmakers of his generation and, as such, is pretty much a lock for the Hall Of Fame, whether I like it or not.

There will be those who will remind the rest of us that he has always failed to lead a team to a championship, winning gold medals with Team Canada riding other players' coattails, from the 1997 World Juniors (Boyd Devereaux, Marc Denis) to the 2004 World Cup (Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Sakic) to the 2010 Olympics (Roberto Luongo, Jonathan Toews, Jarome Iginla, Shea Weber) and the 2016 World Cup (Sidney Crosby, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Toews).

But as leader of the 2001 World Championship squad? Fifth place.

As captain of the Sharks and Boston Bruins? Nada.

He will probably top the 1500-point mark this year and he has a reasonable shot at Gordie Howe's games played record if he plays for two more seasons after that, but apart from the 2005-06 Art Ross and Hart trophies, winning in the NHL has eluded him.

And yet, he's a three-time 100-point performer - and one of those times came in 2002-03, near the end of the Dead Puck Era. That is quite the accomplishment.

Here he is as I will likely remember him best, wearing the captain's "C" for the Sharks, in one of their many different teal (now-home) uniforms:
It's card #GJ-JT from Upper Deck's 2014-15 Series 1 set and UD Game Jersey sub-set, and features a white game-worn jersey swatch that is from either the Sharks' or the Bruins' white uniforms.

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