Archiving for myself:
ADDING SOME BITE
12/2/2003 1:14:00 PM
Thornton, who had his first taste of NHL action in 1990, wasn't about to waste the opportunity that awaited him in San Jose just over three years ago.
When the London , Ontario native signed as a free agent with the Western Conference club, the cousin of superstar Joe Thornton felt it could be the right fit, an ideal opportunity to flourish on a team who required a hard-nosed, hard-working player.
Fast-forward to the present and Thornton 's initial instincts have proven to be correct--and then some.
"It's been a perfect situation for me," said the former Ontario Hockey League graduate, who netted 19 goals (then a career-best mark) in his first season in white and teal. "I was given the opportunity to play with good players and coaches put me in situations to be successful. I had to respond, but the opportunities were there and in the past they weren't."
Granted more ice time and an increased role during critical stages in the game, the 215-pound Thornton responded in kind, playing the best hockey of his professional career while providing strong leadership on a team hungry to make strides in the standings and post-season.
Not one to shy away from the physical side of the game, Thornton felt more at ease accentuating the offensive side of his game while still delivering bodychecks and the odd invitation to go one-on-one with an opponent.
His first year in San Jose, 2000-01, was a rousing all-round success, yet some wondered if Thornton could duplicate those impressive numbers the following campaign.
Thornton 's response came in the form of 26 goals, 42 points and a plus-11 rating - all personal-best numbers.
"It was all about gaining and keeping confidence," said the 6'3" forward, who began his big-league career with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1990-91. "I was given a chance and I wasn't going to let it pass me by."
And even though his totals were impressive, Thornton, who despite admitting he enjoys the challenge of math and has an interest in accounting, isn't overly concerned with being a numbers man.
"It's frustrating if you're doing well, but the team isn't," stated Thornton, who went on to play five seasons with Edmonton after just one year in Toronto . "I was certainly happy that I was contributing, but it's tough when you don't achieve team goals. It gets to you."
A veteran of over 700 NHL games, Thornton , selected as the best checker and best face-off man in a 1989-90 poll of Leyden Division (OHL) coaches, still brings the same solid work ethic that has spanned his entire hockey career.
If his name isn't on the scoresheet, Thornton is still a major presence on the ice, doing a little bit of everything to make a difference.
"That's exactly what you have to do in this league to be successful," noted Thornton, who has over 200 games of service with San Jose . "There are moments in each game that you have to make split-second decisions as to what's going to benefit the team the most. Picking up points isn't the only way you can contribute."
Once the young player seeking advice from elder members of the team, Thornton is now the one in a position to lend an ear to some of the younger Sharks, a welcome role for No. 17 and one he intends to put to good use this season and beyond.
But the primary goal, Thornton insists, is a combined effort to secure a playoff berth, a tough task in the highly competitive Western Conference, but certainly a possibility.
On a personal level, Thornton , limited to just 41 games after being racked by injuries in 2002-03, will be looking to remain healthy and have the chance to deliver his typical in-your-face, high impact game throughout the season.
"You just can't take off any nights in this league," said Thornton, who missed 21 games after suffering a concussion. "Hopefully, I can stay off the sidelines and do what it takes to help the team win."
There might be younger Sharks in the San Jose line-up, but perhaps none as hungry as the man with a definitive game plan.
Hmm, what else made happy this morning? The image of Martin Havlat playing with little hockey action figures (not in that way) and being happy with Marian Hossa.
I made red curry with chicken last night for dinner. Alex's gf took notes as I cooked. That was really weird! I'm the kind of person who throws in random amounts of random ingredients when I cook and hopes that everything turns out okay. Or edible, at the very least. So I definitely felt like the blind leading the blind.
Speaking of Alex, I dreamed that him and his cousin were gay lovers. Now that I think of it, they have UST something fierce! They both bear scars from each other (courtesy of a two-by-four and a broken glass, respectively) and their bickering is really cute. One is tall, skinny and dark, the other is short, stout and blonde and they just looked right together in my dream.
*shrugs* Alex's gf has already slashed him with Chip anyway. ;) Apparently straight guys shouldn't own over twenty belts?