BOSTON -- Joe Thornton might have finally gotten his closure with the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
The former No. 1 overall pick of the Bruins never wanted to leave Boston when he was dealt away to San Jose during the 2005-06 season, and he never got his chance to say goodbye to the team, the fans or the city.
Amid a hotly contested 4-2 win for the Sharks that included a trademark Thornton assist on Joe Pavelskis goal in the first period, the Bruins and TD Garden folks honored Jumbo Joe with a video presentation commemorating his 1,000th game played in the NHL on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils. The Bs played a series of video clips from Thorntons best moments with the Bruins to Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix, and the Garden crowd followed with a long, embracing ovation for the former franchise center.
Thornton was never able to win in Boston and he probably never should have been the Bs captain as a young player, but Jumbo Joe was always a happy-go-lucky skater that nobody could truly hold a grudge against.
Thornton gave a wave, a salute with his gloved hand and a thumbs up when the camera centered on him amid the applause, and voiced his appreciation for the welcoming applause after the win.
It was great. Obviously this is where it all started, Thornton said. They gave me my chance, and I love coming back to this city. Ive still got so many friends here and theyre still part of my life.
Jumbo Joe and the Sharks have now won each of the last three trips back to Boston over the last three years, but the 6-foot-4 playmaking pivot couldn't put his finger on why his team has had so much success against the Bruins.
It just seems every time we play here, theyre a real talented team that plays defense first. I think when youve got good defensive teams going toe-to-toe, it seems to be a good game, Thornton said. Theyve got some good offensive players as well. It just always seems to be one-goal games and pretty exciting games, too.
It was a fairly run-of-the-mill night for Thornton on the ice with the assist and zero shots on net in nearly 19 minutes of play. And while everything else might fade away, the ovation and that final moment of closure with the fans he grew up trying to please might just stick with Jumbo Joe for a while.