Jumbo Joe Thornton is known for his size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), hockey talent (more than 1,500 points) and his iconic, scraggly beard. He hails from St. Thomas, Ontario and he’s destined for the Hockey Hall of Fame once he hangs up his skates and becomes eligible for entry. But at the age of 41, Jumbo Joe isn’t ready to retire, instead signing with Toronto where he’s trying to win his first Stanley Cup and, in the process, help the Maple Leafs snap their long championship drought.
In NHL history, only 13 players have surpassed 1,000 assists with Thornton sitting at seventh place and converging on Paul Coffey (sixth with 1,135 assists). In gaining notoriety as one of the NHL’s all-time best passers, Thornton moved ahead of the likes of Adam Oates, Steve Yzerman, Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne, Mario Lemieux and Joe Sakic, each of whom also surpassed the 1,000 assists mark. Drafted No. 1 overall by Boston in 1997, Thornton broke in with the Bruins in 1997-98. Despite a hot start with 33 points after 23 games in 2005-06, the Bruins suddenly traded Thornton to the San Jose Sharks in a deal that rocked the NHL. With 92 points over the next 58 games with San Jose in 2005-06, Thornton finished with 125 points. He thus became the first and only player traded during an NHL season to win the Hart Trophy as MVP and Art Ross Trophy as scoring leader in that year. Jumbo Joe still loves the game – and his teammates appreciate his leadership and mentorship.