Thornton still an ordinary Joe in playoffs

So here we are, Joe, right back where we always seem to be at this time of year. It is the first round of the NHL playoffs. Your San Jose Sharks are in them. And that means you are in them too, even though it does not always look that way.

Sure, you appear to be working hard and back-checking well enough, and you are still making those soft, perfect little passes, just like you do during the regular season.

But that is the problem, Joe. It is not the regular season anymore.

The playoffs are a different kind of hockey beast, an annual rite of spring that is far more life and death than the 82-game preamble. April, May and June are set aside for greatness. The stakes are high, expectations are elevated, and the best players are supposed to find that extra gear.

But you never seem to change gears, Joe. While everybody else is stepping up you always seem to take a step sideways. Or worse, back.

That is what happened last year when your Sharks captured the President’s Trophy as the best team during the regular season and then face-planted in the opening round of the playoffs. You had one goal and four assists in six game. You were a playoff bust. You always have been.

A team with Joe Thornton on it has never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs. A player that is averaging 1.26 points per regular-season game since the lockout is averaging 0.82 points per playoff game over the same stretch.

This year, Joe, you have two lonely assists after four games with Colorado. The series is tied 2-2. But your line has no goals. No goals, Joe. And you play with Dany Heatley — a hobbled Heatley, but a Heatley nonetheless — and Patrick Marleau.

46 Responses to Thornton still an ordinary Joe in playoffs

  1. hockey_lover says:

    SJ needs a MAJOR freaking shake up. Since the 2000 season, they have finished 1st or 2nd in their division every year (except 02/03) and top 5 in the league in each of those years as well. And yet, have only made it to the conference finals .. ONCE? In the 13 series that they have played, they have won only 4 series in 5 games or less. For a team that is regularly SOOOO dominant in the regular season, its pathetic.

    They are the epitomy of playoff choke. Sure other teams have choked before. It happens to all teams at one time or another (Boston last year comes to mind). But year after year? Come on.  I cant take them seriously in any way shape or form. Until they do SOMETHING impressive in the playoffs, that team will never get any respect from many people.

  2. albertateams says:

    I just don't get how the Sharks can be so dominant in the regular season and then have their star players just disappear in the playoffs. It speaks volume about the heart and drive of their stars. If they don't make it out of the second round you are going to see heads role. Wilson will be done Mclellan will be gone. If you are the Sharks you would hate to lose Marleau for nothing but can you justify signing him for 6 million when he has been there for every playoff failure. Nabokov won't be resigned. The question is do they move Thorton?  and what could you get?

  3. Tachmo says:

    Thornton used to be my favourite player when he was with the Bruins. He still is one of my favourites. I have stuck by him and always defended him when people have called him out. At this point I am running out of defences for Thornton. After watching the Olympics it was clear that he was just along for the ride and showed zero leadership. I have been watching him in the playoffs this year and he always works his bag off and is always skating hard. I think he needs to start playing with an edge. He has become too soft and mellow in SJ. I remember back in the day when he used to be nasty in Boston and get suspended once in awhile. He is tough as nails when he wants to be. I don't know if thinks he is buddy buddy with everyone or what? 

    He needs to get nastier! 

  4. cam7777 says:

    What I'm curious to see, is if Thornton Heatley end up being traded as a package.  A big problem with having those two tied up to so much money, and also have NTC's, is that they have a lot of power over the situation.  Heatley came to SJS to play with Thornton – it was the sole reason he turned down offers from other teams.  He wanted to be next to that elite playmaker.

    So even if they convince Thornton to waive his NTC, does that mean Heatley is going to pull his publically demanding a trade routine?  And if he does, will it be the same song and dance, where he ultimately just follows Jumbo Joe, forcing Doug Wilson to take a minimal return on his asset?  At least with the Sharks, they didn't give up much to get Heatley in the first place, but this might be precisely why.

    The idea of packaging them together is probably pretty appealing to some teams though.  There will be teams who see this as an oppurtunity to dump an unmoveable contract (Redden), or correct a free agent mistake (Bouwmeester), or even move out several lesser contracts and completely reshape the roster.  While these two can't get it done in the playoffs in San Jose, other teams may feel they have the heart and depth to overcome Thornton's playoff no-shows.

    Off the top of my head, Calgary and New York (rangers) are two teams that would definitely see this as a huge oppurtunity. 

  5. cam7777 says:

    This is EXACTLY it Tachmo.  Like Vincent Lecavalier in Tampa, the sunny weather has caused Joe to forget his roots.  Just listen to his interviews – he's always extatic about somethng, and he doesn't seem to take much of anything seriously.  I think that SJS has become very much like a country club atmosphere for him. 

    He needs to go to a hockey town, where the pressure is always on, and preferably, where there is already a leader in place.   Calgary would probably be ideal for him right now given the cir*****stances.  Just enough pressure to step his game up a notch or two, but not so much that he'd want to kill himself, like in Toronto or Montreal.  And of course, Jarome is there to straighten him out.

    Don't you think Iginla would really step his game up to another level if management went out and got him Thornton?  Like this is a clear message to Iginla – "We love you and what you've done for this city/team, and we are prepared to do what it takes to build a contender around you.  Here is the best playmaker in the NHL; now win!"

  6. hockeyhead says:

    wayne primeau, marco sturm and brad stuart

  7. mojo19 says:

    I wrote this on another page but I'll write it up again –

    Joe Thornton to Calgary for Jay Bouwmeester.

    That would be enough to drastically change the make up of the sharks. And Calgary would probably better benefit from Thornton than they would from Bouwmeester.

  8. hockeyhead says:

    that would be fine if they didnt already trade phaneuf

  9. mojo19 says:

    They would have to trade a star player of the that calibre to land Joe Thornton (I would think). And I don't think their defense would be bad without Jay-Bo, but their forwards would be SO much better with Thornton.

    Their d would be something like this (they could always add a guy in the offseason too maybe)

    Regehr – Giordano
    Sarich – White
    Pardy – Staios
    x – Kronwall

    That's pretty solid. Looking at that, would you rather add Bouwmeester to that defense core or add Thornton to their forwards?

  10. cam7777 says:

    To CHI: Kipprusoff
    To CGY: Campbell, Niemi, Hjalmarsson, 1st in 2010

    Pretty sizeable return for taking on Campbell; maybe Chicago has to add even more to this deal.  Kipper's value will never be higher though.

    To SJS: Bouwmeester, Langkow, Kotalik, Nemisz, Pardy, 1st in 2010 (CHI)
    To CGY: Thornton, Heatley

    Like I said above, I believe these two will want to be traded as a package, and Calgary is one of the few teams that could oblige.  Great trade for Calgary, not so much for SJS, but they'll be backed into a corner if they want to move these guys.  It's possible you have to swap Backlund in for Nemisz and Pardy, but I think it would be worth it.  Although, last summer proved that if you hold out long enough, you'll get what you want.

    Calgary trades Sarich and Moss for a pick(s) or prospect, and waives Staios.  Sign some goalie depth.

    Flames roster:

    Dany Heatley – Joe Thornton – Jarome Iginla
    Niklas Hagman – Matt Stajan – Rene Bourque
    Curt Glencross – Mike Backlund – Nigel Dawes
    Eric Nystrom – Jamal Mayers – Brian McGrattan

    Brian Campbell – Nik Hjalmarsson
    Robyn Regehr – Ian White
    Mark Giordano – Staffon Kronwall

    Antti Niemi – Vesa Toskala

    Flames rebuild done.

    Sharks roster:

    Patrick Marleau – Joe Pavelski – Devin Setoguchi
    Ryane Clowe – Logan Couture – Ales Kotalik
    Jamie McGinn – Daymond Langkow – ___UFA_____
    Frazer McLaren – Manny Malhotra – Torrey Mitchell

    Jay Bouwmeester – Dan Boyle
    Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Doug Murray
    Adam Pardy – Kent Huskins

    ___UFA______ – Tomas Greiss

    Sharks have about 8 million to work with in signing free agents to fill out the roster.  They're an attractive UFA destination, and can utilize that over the next couple years as Langkow and Kotalik exit their roster.

  11. leafy says:

    I can't recall San Jose doing anything to get jinxed. They didn't trade Babe Ruth. They didn't have problems with billy goats, unlike the Chicago Cubs.  So why can't they win?

    Thornton is the anti-Mark Messier. As soon as the playoffs start, he does the exact opposite of Messier. He lowers his level of play. There's no explanation for it. That's who he is. He's Joe.

  12. cam7777 says:

    Well, it's a little bit of karma for absolutely raping the Thornton trade in the first place.  They gave up nothing of value and got the Art Ross winner.  It would be like the Leafs trading Kadri straight up for Malkin.  Undoubtedly Malkin would completely fall apart and somehow be useless, while Kadri would surely rise to greatness and be a heart-and-soul player for his generation.  That's why you try to make fair trades, because karma has a way of getting back at you.

  13. albertateams says:

    I couldn't disagree more about the Bouwmeester signing being a mistake. They gave up almost nothing to get him, sure he had a down year but so did a lot of the guys on the flames. His signing allowed them to trade Dion.

  14. albertateams says:

    I doubt San Jose would do the trade however if they did Calgary's  top six would be deadly. Even th defense would be solid. I wouldn't resign Toskala tough try to get a Mason or Ellis as a freeagent.

    I just don't see the Sharks trade happening though. Its a nice thought though.

  15. albertateams says:

    They also have some guys that are ready to step in in Pelech and Negrin and guys that are still a couple years out in Erixon, Brodie, and Seabrook. I would way rather have Pelech in there than Staios, Pelech is just nasty to play against.

    Defense is the one area that Calgary does actually have some pretty decent prospect depth.

  16. hockeyhead says:

    im thinking that you could fix joe with a coach.

    he played very well under mike keenan and pat burns. he played with an edge.

    if you give him a chance with a firey coach you might get that snarl out of him.

    i would also think about replacing nabokov.

    he looks like he chokes in the big games despite having good numbers in the regular season.

  17. HABSSTAR says:

    I think part of the reason No Show Joe isn't in Boston anymore is cause he pulled this little act one too many times in Bean town and they pulled the plug. 

    My question is, who trades for this guy now?  Is there someone out there who thinks they have the magic formula to make him grow a set in the playoffs?  Or does he just go to a "non traditional" market where they'll be happy just to have a name and someone filling the net in the regular season?

  18. cam7777 says:

    no, i don't either, but you never know, because like i said, those NTC's are massive hinderances.  if you consider that heatley was worth michalek, cheechoo and a 2nd, well, langkow, kotalik, and a 1st is pretty comparable, which means it's bouwmeester and nemisz for thornton.  cir*****stance is powerful when those NTC's are present.

    i like my new york trade idea for thornton/heatley better though:

    to nyr: thornton, heatley
    to sjs: redden, dubinsky, del zotto, stepan, 1st in 2010

    Rangers would have a sick forward core, and the Sharks would get a lot of youth and potential, as well as cap space to chase someone else and resign marleau instead of losing him for nothing.

  19. albertateams says:

    There are plenty of teams that will still want to get Thorton its just they're not going to give up much for him. I would love for Calgary to get him to play with Iginla, I think Iginla is one of the few guys that could really light a fire under Joe in the playoffs. Calgary would probably have to send Bouwmeester the other way to balance out salaries. Unless San Jose wants Kotalik Langkow and a bunch of picks and prospects, which I can't see.

  20. cam7777 says:

    Bouwmeester is so over-rated though.  As a comparison, his best offensive season was on par with some of Kaberle's worst efforts, and his penchant for winning seems to be even less.  Problem isn't that J-Bo is bad, but rather that he makes almost 7 million dollars and doesn't deliver the wins.  It's great that he was free, but realistically, J-Bo should only be making about 4-5 million.

    I would say it was actually that signing him persuaded them to trade Dion, rather then allowed them to.  Had they stuck with Dion, they'd have a leader moving forward if they decided to trade Iginla for a King's ransom, and decisions right now would be a lot easier.  I dunno, I'm sure you think it just sounds like I say this because I'm a Leafs fan, but I would take Dion over J-Bo every day of the week.

    And worst of all, now you're stuck with Stajan.

  21. albertateams says:

    Yeah those NTR's are a real pain for GM's. I think it would be very difficult to trade both of them together its just two many factors to address. Heatley would probably stay without Joe but who knows. The team would still be pretty stacked if they signed Marleau.

  22. albertateams says:

    I don't think Bouwmeester is any more overrated than Phaneuf. Bouwmeester is only one year older than Phaneuf, Phanuef is a harder hitter and has a better shot but J-bo is a better Skater and plays better defense. Compare Kaberle's stats to J-bo's when they were the same age they are very close. Also J-bo is a much better defender than Kaberle.

    I'd give him a little time to adjust to the flames before you right him off as not delivering wins, After the Phaneuf trade he really picked it up.  Big well rounded  d-men are always going to get paid a lot. 4-5 are you kidding me he might be a little overpaid but 0.5-1.0 million tops.

    Well actually a couple of things allowed them to trade Dion, one was the signing of J-bo, two was the emergence of Giordano and three was Regher punching Phaneuf in face in the dressing room.

    Dion was never going to be the leader of the Flames unless they changed 75% of that locker room. I don't have a problem with Phaneuf I really liked him when he played in Calgary, but it is abundantly clear now that a lot of the players couldn't stand him.

    I really like Dion as a player he just did not fit in in Calgary. I think I will wait a couple of years to see who is the better player. We'll see how long the honey moon in Toronto lasts.

    Stajan's a solid 2nd line guy. Plus we got a 25 goal score, and a defenseman that had more points, goals and a better plus minus than Phaneuf.

  23. nordiques100 says:

    interesting to note that Thornton has 1 year left on his deal and is one of many stars potentially available in the 2011 free agency class.

    C: Richards, Thornton, Bergeron, Arnott, Connolly, Handzus, MKoivu, Fiddler
    W: Semin, St louis, Gagne, Kovalev, Sullivan, Williams, Sturm, Vrbata, Hedjuk, Hudler, Backes, Langenbrunner, Miettinen, Brunette, Laich, JJokinen, Dupuis,
    D: Chara, Jovanovski, Mccabe, Markov, Kaberle, Hannan, Brewer, Pitkanen, Salo, Phillips, Bieska, Poti, Ehrhoff, Daley, Montador, Ericksson
    G: Giguere, Vokoun, Leclaire, Bryzgalov, Anderson, Howard, Smith

    While i can see several of these guys going back to their current teams: Markov, Chara, Bergeron, Semin, Koivu, Bryzgalov to name a few. I cannot see Thornton being one of them on that for sure list and go back to the Sharks.

    Where he would go is anyone's guess but like many have been saying, the Sharks and he need change.

    But what would stoke the fire and get Joe going in the second season? He has suffered in both places he has played. And this isnt like Yzerman who lost early in his career for a while until winning those cups later on. Yzerman at least performed in most, if not all those playoffs at a high level.

    Thornton just simply disappears, and he's done so on some great teams.

    Would playing near where he grew up like in Ottawa or Toronto work?

    Does he need to stay anonymous and be in places like the southern US?

    Does he need to play second fiddle to someone? Like the kind of support system the Pens have with Malkin, Crosby and Staal?

    Its hard to say. you know you're going to get like 85-110 points from this guy. But in the playoffs, he is completely unreliable.

    I wonder if he will relax if they make it to round 2. i think he is caving under this pressure of all those previous failures.

  24. mojo19 says:

    A bit of a sidetrack here, but your comment made me think of that trade taht almost went through before Detroit backed out last minute, that would have sent Yzerman to Ottawa for Yashin straight up. This was either after Detroit lost in the cup final to Jersey in '95 or when the went out in the Western conference final in '96 to the Avs. Imagine Detroit had made that trade, I doubt very much they win back to back cups in '97 and '98.

  25. HABSSTAR says:

    well you can have him, but don't be surprised if nothing lights a fire under him. 

  26. cam7777 says:

    I think you can take Semin off your list of guys that will probably resign.  Almost every time a player asks to be extended for 1 year, just to his unrestricted free agency, they test their value.  There has been speculation in Washington that Semin doesn't like playing on the second line, and wants to go somewhere where he will be a star. 

    I wouldn't even be surprized if the Caps trade him this summer, and use that money to resign Fleischmann, Fehr and Morrison, who have all done very well for them.  It would probably also allow them to chase Volchenkov. 

    Even Markov.  I mean, the Habs are a good enough team to make it to the playoffs, and they probably will be next year too.  But let's face it, their core is already aging, and also signed long-term.  In 2-3 years time, they will be in a very Maple Leaf like position.  To top it all off, most of their prospects have busted or been traded away.  If Montreal is a bubble team next spring, I wouldn't be surprized if they see what they can get for Markov.

    And Chara too.  If you fish around on Bruins forums, you'll see most fans are under the impression Chara won't return at the end of his deal.  So even guys like him aren't surefire bets to return.  The salary cap is a *****.

  27. lafleur10 says:

    most of our prospects haven't been traded away or busts we still have lots of prospects with huge upsides!

  28. cam7777 says:

    Well, in a year's time the franchise has gone from having the #2 ranking on Hockey's Future, all the way to #16.  That's not a good thing, even if it is only Hockey's Future.  The top 5 Habs prospects are pretty weak right now, no offense.  I'm not really trying to start something, but to put it into perspective, Subban will likely be in the NHL next season, and the Leafs 11th ranked prospect vastly out-performed your next two on the depth chart (Kristo and Leblanc).  Expectations have been lowered for Webber, Carle, and Fischer, and McDonagh is a bust who was traded away.  Things have not gone swimmingly for what was once the deepest prospect pool in the league.

    Just saying I personally think the Habs are unlikely to go the distance with the forwards they have, but they are also pretty much stuck with those forwards.  So maybe you look to improve the team for the long-term, rather than hording Markov until he's old, and getting a low return for him.  Then, by the time those contracts become moveable, or they expire, you have a stellar young, and affordable cast to come in.  Just a thought.

  29. Kramer says:

    Everybody's forgetting the real problem with Thornton. Did you consider that maybe Thornton got kidnapped by aliens and hasn't recovered from all the drugs the aliens used? You gotta think about these things first. Give him the benefit of the doubt.

  30. Magleaf says:

    you bring up and interesting point

  31. nordiques100 says:

    speaking of ordinary, what about kovalchuk and the devils. wow. they were schooled by philly.

  32. futurebruin says:

    hey cam, you think you could come up with some kind of fair deal sending Heatly to Boston with a lineup for them?  i know the bruins would never trade for heatley or if they did heatly would probably never waive his NTC, but it's nice to dream.  and just for fun:

    To SJS: Blake Wheeler, Milan Lucic, Dennis Wideman, Tommy Cross, 1st in 2010(BOS)
    To BOS: Dany Heatley

    To NSH: Michael Ryder
    To BOS: 3rd in 2010(NSH)

    To PHI: Tim Thomas
    To BOS: Simon Gagne, 2nd in 2011(PHI)

    – Buyout Marco Sturm 

    (7.5) Dany Heatley – Marc Savard (4.007) – ___UFA___

    (3.75) Taylor Hall – Patrice Bergeron (4.75) – Brad Marchand (0.822)

    (0.75) Miroslav Satan – David Krejci (3.75) – Simon Gagne (5.25)

    (1.3) Daniel Paille – Vladmir Sobotka (1.0) – Shawn Thornton (0.65)

    (7.5) Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg (2.75)

    (2.5) Mark Stuart – Johnny Boychuk (1.33)

    (1.55) Matt Hunwick – Andrew Ference (2.25)

    (1.25) Tuukka Rask

    (2.0) Marty Turco

    Marco Sturm Buyout (1.343, just a guess)

    Peter Schaeffer Buyout (0.767)

    Total: $56.769M (53.76 with the bonus cushion)

    That leaves about 3 million to find another guy to play with Savard and Heatley.  It'll never happen, but it's always fun to dream.

  33. leafy says:

    I couldn't really understand why people were so afraid of facing New Jersey in the pre-playoff discussions. Glad to say I didn't fall for that.

    They're not a strong team physically, which is not conducive to winning in the playoffs.  Philly didn't just beat them. They badly outplayed them.

    I'll say one more thing. Philly could take Washington. Let's put it this way, the Caps are going to have their hands full. The series could go either way.

  34. cam7777 says:

    even with Carter and Gagne out though?  Could be tough.

  35. leafy says:

    Wow I just read Carter is out 6 weeks. There's a chance Gagne could be back for round three. That's a bad break for Philly. Too much pressure on Richards and Briere now.

  36. mojo19 says:

    Guys like McAmmond, Clarkson, White, Niedermayer all needed to be more physical for the Devils.

  37. nordiques100 says:

    i chalk it up to their D.

    Martin, Salvador, White, Mottau, Greene, Skoula?

    That's terrible.

  38. reinjosh says:

    Phaneuf has actually been great defensively. He seems to have learned it and he is becoming the team's leader. Everyone seems to like him, especially Schenn (which is awesome). Phaneuf could not have done this in Calgary. He got to comfortable and it showed. It was a move best for Phaneuf, Toronto and Calgary. And Phaneuf seemed to get his offensive game back. White was great this season but he won't be better statistically than Phaneuf for long. Great trade for both teams though, even if Phaneuf becomes a Norris winner again.

  39. reinjosh says:

    Only problem is that I think Chicago will go forward with Niemi and try to drop Huet wherever the hell the can. Niemi has been great in the playoffs. Only Rinne has been better so far. But they could very much just want to go for it and go after a big name goalie.

  40. reinjosh says:

    You would be surprised what a guy like Iginla can do with that sort of thing. Plus Sutter kicking his ass in gear and a town that is a huge hockey town? All could contribute. But then again, all could do nothing as well.

  41. albertateams says:

    Great is a bit of a stretch, but he has been much better since he has been in Toronto that's for sure. It will be interesting to see what he does for a full season in TO. I think its premature to say he got his offensive game back 2 goals and 10 points -2 in 26 games. Yeah he scored two in the last couple of games but he has always been streaky with his goals, he gets them in bunches it seems. He started out hot in Calgary this year as well.

  42. reinjosh says:

    They have the offensive depth to sustain that loss though. Carle and Timonen are capable offensive guys if they need to be. Briere can be great and in this situation he could step up. Carcillo has shown he can show up at opportune times.

    Richards has been awesome and will be the main guy. Giroux has been great and a second threat behind Richards. JVR and Hartnell are adequate and could be a good if they stepped up.

    Philly's depth is their greatest asset and they can go far with it. They likely won't pass the Capitals but they will put up a good and hard fight. Two teams with lots of scoring depth and questionable goalies should make for a great matchup.

  43. reinjosh says:

    Think of how it is going to look if Martin leaves (which there is a very good chance of). Horrendous.

  44. mojo19 says:

    Might be the worst defense of any team that made the playoffs. Also that guy who came back with Kovalchuk was in there too (Niksana or some shit, Finish guy). And Paul Martin didn't even show up until game 5, he was coasting.

    Believe me I was pissed about that series since I had Parise and Langenbrunner in my pool (and Clarkson…). brutal. New Jersey needs a couple of legit d-men, maybe 1 puck mover and 1 physical guy, who are capable of logging big minutes

  45. HABSSTAR says:

    Well if it works then all the better but I don't think you can teach heart.  Joe seems to be the Tin Man when the playoffs roll around.   Sutter couldn't do anything with Jokinen and Thornton played in Boston and they had to put his picture on a milk carton when the playoffs started.  At some point you just gotta call it as it is.  I think at this point it's probably safer to assume that he's fair weather player than the contrary. 

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