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St. Thomas honors hometown hero Joe Thornton with 'Jumbo' banner

Jul 11, 2010, 2:00 PM EDT

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Thumbnail image for jumbojoe.jpgWhile many observers will criticize him for failing to earn a Stanley Cup banner, Joe Thornton was honored by the people of his hometown with a big banner at a local rink. The St. Thomas Times has more on the ceremony.

He is arguably the biggest celebrity to hail from St. Thomas.

And, now, Joe Thornton has a permanent banner at the Timken Centre, marking two decades of hockey accomplishments in St. Thomas and beyond. Unveiled on Friday, the four-by-20 foot banner will hang in the upper level of the Timken Centre’s main rink.

While Joe Thornton was unable to attend, his parents, Wayne and Mary Thornton, were on hand for the official unveiling.

“We would just like to thank all of St. Thomas for supporting Joe throughout the years. They’ve been fantastic,” said Wayne Thornton. “All of his friends are here, everybody has been behind Joe to support him, sometimes financially, sometimes with moral support. The whole Thornton family really appreciates what St. Thomas has done.”

After a slow start to his career, Thornton has been among the NHL’s leading scorers – especially in the assists category – for years now. It will be interesting to see if he ends up in the Hockey Hall of Fame once his career is over; while many would penalize him for failing to lead a team to the Stanley Cup, Thonrton already has 931 regular season points. When you consider that he fought through some of the lowest moments of the Dead Puck Era, that’s a pretty impressive total.

He’s also been quite a bit better in the playoffs (at least with the Sharks), than people might realize. Many will never really forgive him for being a perimeter player in a power forward’s body, scoring 47 points in 56 playoff games with San Jose isn’t half-bad.

That’s a debate for another day, though. I’ll leave you with this semi-interesting tidbit which explains that his considerable size isn’t the real reason people call him “Jumbo Joe.”

Years of work and thousands of kilometres travel led to the creation of “Jumbo Joe, Olympic gold medalist and NHL all-star,” Vecchio said. The nickname is a homage to Jumbo, the famous elephant killed in St. Thomas 125 years ago.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

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