Bruins Trade All-Star Thornton to Sharks
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
December 1, 2005, 1:27 AM EST
The San Jose Sharks acquired star center Joe Thornton from the Boston
Bruins for three players Wednesday night in a trade between two last-
place franchises desperate to shake up their dismal seasons.
San Jose sent forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau and defenseman
Brad Stuart to the Bruins, sacrificing three members of their young
core for Thornton, a probable 2006 Canadian Olympian and three-time
All-Star considered one of the NHL's top power forwards.
Thornton was stunned when general manager Mike O'Connell called his
cell phone after Thornton had just finished dining with his parents
in Boston. The 26-year-old signed a three-year, $20 million contract
in August with Boston, where he was the club's captain for the last
Thornton was less than complimentary of O'Connell and coach Mike
Sullivan, whose jobs both are rumored to be in jeopardy.
"I was blindsided," Thornton said in a conference call. "On the one
hand it's disappointing, and on the other it's good to start over
again. When you don't win, there's going to be changes.
"Obviously (the Bruins) believe in their coach and their general
manager, and I'm next in line, so I've got to move on. ... I came
back here to win, and we haven't been winning. Whose fault is that?
I'm not sure, but I'm out of here, so it must be mine."
Thornton was tied for 11th in the NHL in scoring entering Wednesday's
games with nine goals and 24 assists, but Boston has lost nine of its
last 10 games. The Sharks, who lost 4-1 to Dallas, are 0-7-3 in their
last 10 games during one of the worst stretches in franchise history.
San Jose general manager Doug Wilson said he expects Thornton to be
in the lineup Friday in Buffalo, where the Sharks will play the
second game of a three-game road trip. Wilson agreed the trade was
among the biggest in franchise history, alongside the trade of former
captain Owen Nolan to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2003.
"Players like Joe Thornton don't come available very often," Wilson
said. "He's a big, physical guy with a lot of ability. He also knows
a lot of our players very well. He should fit in well with our group.
"He's a special guy. The combination of he and (Patrick) Marleau down
the middle should be very strong for us."
Thornton and Marleau, the Sharks' captain and leading scorer, were
the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the 1997 entry draft. Both
joined the league that year as raw 18-year-olds, but eventually
emerged as top NHL centers and teammates on several Canadian national
Thornton has scored more than 20 goals in each of his last five NHL
seasons, including two 30-goal campaigns. In 2003-04, he led the
Bruins with 23 goals and 50 assists.
Though Thornton is aware of the Sharks' recent struggles, he is
encouraged by the Sharks' success in 2004, when they went to the
Western Conference finals during the best season in franchise
"They had a great run there, and they've got great goaltending,
obviously," Thornton said. "I know (Marleau), and he's a great center
man. Hopefully we can be a great 1-2 punch."
Thornton joins his cousin in San Jose, Sharks forward Scott Thornton.
Their fathers are brothers -- and Joe Thornton's father already
expressed his delight at the possibility of making road trips
"I obviously know him," Scott Thornton said in Dallas. "He's one of
the top 10 players in the league. He's a big, powerful forward. I
expect him to be a giant on special teams."
Still, Scott Thornton expressed regret in losing Sturm, Primeau and
Stuart, who were last-minute scratches from the lineup in Dallas.
"We lost three great teammates," he said. "The bottom line is we're
all to blame for this. ... We should all feel guilty about this."
The departing Sharks players, all first-round picks, are expected to
play for Boston on Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators.
"We felt we needed to shake up the team and sometimes you have to
make some difficult decisions to better the team," O'Connell said in
a statement. "We feel we received three players who can help us
All three new Bruins are bona fide NHL talents -- but all three also
had flaws that contributed to the Sharks' malaise this season.
Sturm is the Sharks' second-leading scorer with six goals and 10
assists this season, but the speedy German forward still hasn't
developed into the topflight goal-scorer most expected him to be. He
missed the Sharks' playoff run in 2004 after breaking his leg late in
the regular season.
Stuart, who has two goals and 10 assists, finished second in voting
for the Calder Trophy as top rookie following the 1999-00 season. But
he has struggled for long stretches this season, prompting public
criticism of his passing and physical play by coach Ron Wilson.
Primeau, a gritty fourth-liner, has five goals and three assists this