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Losing a giant
Robert 'Evel' Knievel is no more
12/9/07 - By Steve Flores

As a kid I admired the daredevil. As a matter of fact many men - both young and old - held a fascination with Knievel. The guy was charismatic and larger than life. Opinions on personality and politics aside the guy was something special. As sports fans we all love that 'special' brand of athlete. Knievel was full of IT and I mean IT in a special and positive way. IT cannot be taught or learned. Someone is born with IT.

Knievel was an icon and as he passed many of us took time to reflect on that which we had witnessed during his lifetime.

Don't worry I am not getting all pious about a guy that, despite all his accolades also was flawed. I realize that. But his passing also gave me a little nudge and reminded me of how important it is to live in the moment.

San Jose Sharks fans have the rare ability to currently grab hold of a piece of history themselves. History in the making is Joe Thornton folks and although we all know and appreciate Super Joe I am not sure everyone realizes just how special he is.

The 2007-08 version of the Sharks has had a lot of ups and downs. Of course the opinion on the team's results thus far has been based on a combination of expectation and performance based on their prior season. The one constant on this team this year has been the efforts of Thornton.

The team has been criticized from all angles for pretty much everything they have done and not done on the ice this season - most, if not all, deserved. I have even seen some criticism of Big Joe. That, however, is ridiculous. I have had Sharks season tickets since season one and I have never seen a Shark go as full boar from his initial shift till game end quite like this guy.

Does he always do the right thing? No. Does he always end up with the intended goal or result? No. But more times than not the lack of a goal scored isn't for lack of effort or ingenuity on Thornton's part. First of all he sees a game far different than anyone else on the team. The guy is light years ahead of the rest of the roster. That statement is not intended to nor does it minimize the abilities of the other Sharks as they are all NHL quality players - Thornton is just a witch.

The guy makes passes like no one since Gretzky. His pass to Patrick Marleau against Dallas on Wednesday was so mind-blowing that Michelangelo may have painted it on a ceiling somewhere had he been alive and kicking in our current hockey world. Each and every night with Thornton on the ice the viewer is aware of the fact that something amazing and or exciting is not only possible, but quite likely.

Everything that can be said or can be written has pretty much already been done about Thornton. The guy makes everyone better. The man is a pro's pro. The guy is the game's best passer - all of this and much, much more.

Thornton is Merlin and we are all part of his 'round-table'.

Joe Thornton has already won an NHL Hart (MVP) Trophy. With Sidney Crosby in the league many feel that it will be difficult for anyone to pry that hardware from the Pittsburgh Centerman. I am not part of that thought process however. I have the luxury of watching Thornton night in and night out. That which I see is Hart-worthy and that is undeniable. The Sharks are Stanley Cup contenders largely because of big number nineteen's presence on the ice. He makes the Sharks better and he makes the games worth watching. In an era that is once again becoming more and more defensive that is no small skill.

So Shark fans during this holiday season please try to keep in mind all that you have both in real life and in your hockey world. The next time you see Big Joe on the ice take a moment to smell the roses and appreciate the fact that you are watching one of the games greatest ever players, in his prime, on your team. He may never attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon but he is every bit full of IT.

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