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Scorers who got rich thanks to Joe Thornton

Oct 22, 2011, 12:30 AM EDT

Jonathan Cheechoo, Joe Thornton AP

Hockey fans own plenty of go-to punching bags, but Joe Thornton‘s supposed playoff woes are a near-universal favorite. There’s at least one group of people who are unlikely to bash Jumbo Joe, though: the wingers he made rich.

With Thornton’s 1,000th game in the books, here’s a look at some of the guys who should’ve given him a serious cut of their checks.

Sergei Samsonov: More than half of the speedy Russian’s career goals came in Boston. That is not a coincidence. It’s possible that Samsonov received so many chances to turn his career around because people dreamed that he’d find his old magic, but that magic came from someone else.

Glen Murray: Murray went from a solid 29-goal scorer with the Los Angeles Kings to a two-time All-Star with the Bruins, where Thornton helped him score a career-high 92 points. Murray never topped 62 without Jumbo Joe.

Jonathan Cheechoo: “The Cheechoo Train” is the most obvious example of The Thornton Effect. Cheechoo won the 2006 Maurice Richard Trophy after he scored 56 goals thanks to Thornton’s gigantic year. Now he’s relegated to minor league indignity.

Patrick Marleau: Obviously, Marleau was a great player before Thornton – the player who was drafted ahead of him in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Still, his game jumped to a higher level with Thornton; the speedy forward posted a career-high 44 goals on a line with Jumbo Joe in 09-10. Even if they haven’t always lined up together, Marleau benefited from easier defensive matchups – all five of his highest goal scoring years came after the Thornton trade.

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Thornton’s Hall of Fame worthiness is up to debate, but making average guys into stars (and stars into superstars) shows that he deserves a lot more respect.

  1. sharksfan754 - Oct 22, 2011 at 1:18 AM

    He is more than a point per game player. And his last two years in the playoffs he’s had 29 points in 33 games ( I think one of the two new vancouver writers said this earlier today as well). Far from a no show. People who still hate on him during the playoffs are out of line.

    • James O'Brien - Oct 22, 2011 at 1:23 AM

      PHT’s had a pretty steady track record of arguing against the “Thornton’s a choker” talk.

      http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2011/05/22/has-joe-thornton-really-ever-been-a-choker-since-he-came-to-san-jose/

  2. mianfr - Oct 22, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    How is his Hall of Fame candidacy up for debate? Yes, he hasn’t won Championships, but he’s an obvious Hall of Fame player.

    I mean, if Ray Bourque got traded to the team he wanted to be traded to, he has no rings.

    In some ways it’s harder to get a ring if you’re an elite player still mostly in your prime… Yes you are a major part of ideally a good team, but you also don’t get to move as much as less important pieces (and I know he was traded once, but still, it’s only two teams and long stretches with both; he’s not Hossa-ing it). Jerome Iginla, the Sedin twins, Ryan Nash, Henrik Lundqvist… There are a lot of high profile people who are not going anyway who need other people to step more than they need to do more.

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