The Sharks looked toothless at the start of the NHL season. They had lost 10 straight before sending Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart to Boston for
Thornton on Nov. 30.
With Thornton wearing teal, the Sharks won their next six games, and are 8-4-1 with Joltin' Joe leading the attack. In those 13 games, he has 21 points five goals, 16 assists. And it's infectious. Jonathan Cheechoo has 13 goals playing on the same line as Thornton.
There's something about that name, Joe. Another Joe, Montana, jolted the San Francisco 49ers into becoming a Super Bowl team. Now the 26-year-old Thornton is hoping to bring the Stanley Cup to San Jose.
The Sharks are home tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. After practice Wednesday, the 6-foot-4, 223-pound Thornton talked about his impact since coming west.
Q. What has been your biggest influence on the Sharks?
A. Just a new face. I came in here and just started working hard. They were losing a lot of one-goal games and ... I don't know what I did. It's just a team effort. It's just not myself. Everyone has gotten better in the last month. I'm just helping out wherever I can.Q. What is your strongest asset as a hockey player?
Q. What is more natural to you, scoring or passing?
A. Probably passing. My idol was Wayne Gretzky. He was always a passer. That's not who I took my game after, but I always watched him.
Q. What is the greatest quality a scorer can have?
A. From my standpoint, it's a quick release. Quick release, hit the net, you never know what can happen. A slow release lets the goalie come over quicker. So get it off your stick as quick as you can, so the goalie won't have as much time to set up.
Q. What's the greatest asset for a passer in hockey?
A. Patience. You've just got to be patient, read off the defenders, wait until your scorer gets in position. Just relax, let the defender make the first move, and you can react.
Q. The Sharks came their closest to a Stanley Cup two years ago before last season's lockout. How close are they now?
A. There's so much to get there, but confidence within a group of guys, and the sky's the limit. I'm a big believer in teamwork. If we push each other in practice, we'll get better.
Q. East Coast hockey, West Coast hockey: What's the biggest difference?
A. You know what, fans are unbelievable here. They're among the loudest fans I've played before. I just love playing out here.
Q. You're from London, Ontario. What's the biggest difference between hockey in Canada and hockey in America?
A. Hockey's like football and basketball combined in Canada. It's a religion up there. And it's so cold, everybody plays. And the media coverage in Canada is more high profile.
Q. Last Friday, you lost three upper teeth to the stick of Colorado's Milan Hejduk. Does it make you feel less sexy?
A. This is the second time I've lost teeth. I lost some my first year in the NHL (1997-98). All uppers. I'd say 75 percent of those in this locker room have lost teeth playing hockey. It's par for the course. My mom says, "You have such a nice smile. I hope it comes back."
Q. For what Hejduk did, will you exact revenge at some point?
A. The guy who did it came over and said, "I'm sorry." Sticks get up. Sometimes they ricochet and hit you in the nose or a bad spot. He's not that type of player.
Q. You describe yourself in your NHL biography as being easy-going and relaxed. How much would you take before striking back?
A. It's not revenge. You get fired up and a little more excited. Whoever's out there, you take your frustrations out on.
Q. Your bio also says the one person in history you'd like to meet is Alexander the Great. Why?
A. My brother is named after Alexander the Great. He ruled the world at such a young age. He was a great leader, somebody I'd like to have dinner with and talk to.
Q. If you lived back then, when there was no hockey, how would you have competed?
A. I'm sure I would have ridden horses. I went to Rome last year, saw the Colosseum. I like action. No gladiator, though.
Q. Your bio also says your three wishes in life include world peace. You sound like a Miss America contestant. Do you have a way?
A. Just love. It's so big. If you have faith, and make everybody around you better, anything is possible.
Q. I've read that you hate ignorance. In what form?
A. I was always taught "please" and "thank you," and always respect your elders: "Mr." and "Mrs."
Q. What can you do to enforce those values?
A. With young people, I always say, "What do you say before I sign this?" It's there. You just have to pull it out of them.
Q. You're single, but in 30 years, what do you envision yourself doing?
A. Raising kids and going to their hockey games. Maybe here in San Jose or back in my hometown.