| Thornton sits down with NHL
Views on San Jose's success
2/8/09 - By Mike Lee
In preparation for Tuesday's
marquee showdown between the Sharks and the Boston Bruins, San Jose superstar
centerman Joe Thornton sat down for an interview with media covering the NHL.
Thornton was candid as the biggest game with his former team fast approaches.
The game is potentially a prelude to a potential Stanley Cup Finals match up
that would pit Thornton against some former teammates, but more importantly, it
would serve as an exclamation point on the trade that sent shock waves around
Here is a full transcript of that interview:
lot has been said about rookie coach Todd McLellan, but can you tell me a
little bit about what Jay Woodcroft has meant to your team?
THORNTON: He's been great. He actually takes care of all the video part and
some of the on?ice stuff. But he breaks down the good things, the bad things in
our game right then, and he works one?on?one with us after and at practices and
things like that. He's been a great addition to the whole coaching staff.
Q. Also, could you tell me about the additions of Blake and Boyle and
what that's allowed your offense to do knowing you've had those two back there
on the defensive line?
JOE THORNTON: Yeah, they've been great. They
obviously played big, big minutes. They play both power play and penalty kill.
They're two stud defensemen that definitely should be up for Norris
consideration. They've been great. They give other confidence to the other
defense on our team, and they're good veteran guys that won Stanley Cups, so
you know you can rely on guys like that, too.
Q. Obviously you want to
make this one last longer than the last one. The fact that that game was so
short for you a few years ago when you were here shortly after the deal, did
that kind of leave a bad taste in your mouth? Do you kind of want to play a
complete game now?
JOE THORNTON: Well, yeah. It's hockey and you kind
of expect the unexpected, but obviously you want to play the full 60 minutes.
It ended up working out well because I think we won, I'm not sure what the
score was but we won pretty big that night. It worked out good; I got to eat
some popcorn in the room and everything. But yeah, the plan is to play a full
game and to have a good game.
Q. Why are the Sharks better this year? What's going
on with that team? Is it moving the puck better from the back end?
THORNTON: Well, I think with the new coach we just tweaked our system a little
bit, plus we added some big players on the point, so I think when you add all
that together, you're going to have a pretty good season, I guess.
I'm actually working on a story on Mike Grier and would like to know from your
standpoint, how would you describe his importance to the team?
THORNTON: He's a big part of our team. He brings a lot of leadership, a lot of
character. He's huge on the penalty kill. He blocks shots, does all the little
things that don't get maybe noticed on the stats sheet and things like that.
But he's a big part of this team. Yeah, he's been through a lot of wars, so you
definitely can lean on a guy like that, especially for the young guys that
expect what's to come down here in the last 30 games here plus the post?season.
Q. I covered the Sabres for a number of years, including the time when
he was there, and I recall a lot of the players when he left saying how much he
was missed in the locker room because he always seemed to have a knack to say
the perfect thing at the perfect time. Have you been exposed to that, and do
you have any examples by any chance?
JOE THORNTON: Yeah, he's just a
real positive guy, and I think when something needs to be said, I think a guy
like him definitely has ?? he can stand up no problem and address the room, and
he's done that in the past. I have no examples, but he is good with talking in
the room and calming guys down if it's a situation that needs to be handled a
little bit or fire the guys up. So he has a good pulse on the team.
Is his family's background a popular topic in the dressing room? JOE THORNTON:
Q. What comes up about that, and how do you think that ?? how
could you imagine that that family background has impacted his development as a
hockey player, even though we're talking about different sports?
THORNTON: No, I think just his dedication to sport, obviously his family all
into football, one is in Houston, one is in Miami. No, it comes up a lot. We
love talking about football because we usually have Sundays off, so he knows
quite a bit about it. I think he reads your magazine front to back, as well.
He's well?groomed in the sports category area. No, I think for his father just
to be part of the NFL, I think he just learned a lot of discipline from him and
maybe just leadership qualities from his dad. Yeah, he's just a tremendous
Q. Just kind of going back to the return to Boston, lots of
time has passed, lots of water under the bridge. Are you still in touch with a
lot of the players there? I can't even imagine that there would be very many
guys that remain from when you played there.
JOE THORNTON: No, there's
not. Well, I still talk to PJ once in a while, but I think he came in the same
year as me, and that's about the only one that really started with me. Timmy
Thomas was there a little bit and Patrice Bergeron was there, but that's pretty
much it on the player side. You talk to the trainers a little bit here and
there and the equipment guys, but everything else has pretty much all changed
Q. So is it then easier to go back in a situation like that,
because even though it's the team where you started, there's I guess the sense
that it is another game, an important game because they're the top team in the
JOE THORNTON: Yeah, really that's all it is to me. There's not
too many ex?teammates over there, and it's just really an important game in the
schedule. They're the best in the east, and we're the best in the west. So it's
an important game that way rather than I'm playing against friends, I think.
Q. And then just one final follow?up. There's some of us that are
imagining, like occasionally there's upsets in the playoffs, but sometimes the
top teams get through, and if the top teams do get through this year, there
would be a San Jose?Boston Stanley Cup final, which I guess from your
perspective would look good because it means you're competing for the Stanley
Cup. Do you allow your mind to wander, or is it too dangerous to do that
because you've got to get there first?
JOE THORNTON: You wander a
little bit, but obviously we've still got a lot of hockey to work out here. If
that were to be the case it would be great because both teams made it there,
but I think both teams would agree we've still got a lot of work ahead of us.
Q. Just to go back to that Boston game three years ago, the fans gave
you a pretty good ride. You did not hang around long to get booed more, but
they gave you a pretty good ride. Do you expect the same thing this time?
JOE THORNTON: I don't think you expect anything. I think you go in
with no expectations. That's how I'll go into Tuesday's game, just with no
Q. Do you have any regrets about what happened in
Boston, or is that passed? JOE THORNTON: I have no regrets at all. That's years
and years ago. I had no regrets when I played there and when I left, no.
Q. How about the feeling of being traded at that time? What did it
mean to you when you got traded at that time?
JOE THORNTON: Well, I
never in juniors had gotten traded, so that was my first dose of getting
traded. It was a little weird, a little emotional to be leaving. But really,
after I got traded, from that night on, it was tough, and then the morning came
and I flew and I met my new teammates with the Sharks. I think after really
that first 24 hours, I think it wasn't hard, it was just back to business, I
think. It wasn't too tough after that.
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