November 30, 2005 is a day that lives in infamy for many Bruins fans. On that day, the Boston Bruins traded then-captain Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau, and defenseman Brad Stuart.
Although some fans (correctly) opine that this move opened the door to bring in Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard in the following off-season, many fans still wonder what would have happened if this move was never made and Thornton remained a Bruin for the rest of his career.
We can’t go back in time and alter this deal, but many Bruins fans who were sad to see Jumbo Joe go are salivating over recent trade rumors that have linked the Sharks and Bruins pulling off another deal to bring Thornton back to Boston.
While this would certainly make for a compelling story going into the playoffs, the Bruins’ best move before the deadline would be saying ‘no’ to a deal that would bring Thornton back to Boston.
To put it plainly, there are simply too many question marks for trading for Joe Thornton to be worth it.
How would this deal affect the chemistry of current Bruins’ line-up?
The Bruins are one of (if not the) deepest teams at center already.
Having Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Charlie Coyle down the middle is a luxury many teams can only dream about. Even Sean Kuraly, while not the most talented player on the B’s, plays a very important role as the 4th line center, so much so that some fans believe a turning point against the Leafs last year in the first round occurred when Kuraly returned to the line-up in Game 5.
So where would Joe Thornton fit into this mix? You could argue that Thornton could become the Bruins’ 3rd line center, but what happens to Charlie Coyle?
We have seen Bruce Cassidy try Coyle on the wing of Krejci this year, but with limited success, so that probably isn’t your best option. And with the way Coyle is playing right now, you’d hate to limit him to 4th line minutes if he had to slide down the line-up.
Moreover, could Thornton replace Kuraly as the 4th line center on a line whose job it is to create chaos and bring energy? Probably not.
Is Joe Thornton worth the price?
The Sharks won’t be looking for a 1st round pick for Thornton, but the price could still be prohibitive. With market prices as high as they are this year, Thornton could realistically be moved for a 2nd round pick or a decent prospect.
If this is the case, Don Sweeney, who just gave up a 1st round pick to acquire Ondrej Kase, should be blocking all calls coming in from San Jose.
Can Joe Thornton handle the physicality of a long playoff run?
Thornton is as tough as anyone who has ever laced up skates in the NHL.
During the last 3 weeks of the 2017 season, including the playoffs, Thornton played admirably with a torn MCL and ACL in his left knee. The following year, Thornton suffered another knee injury to his right leg that would require him to undergo arthroscopic surgery, limiting him to just 47 games that season.
Although Thornton has played in all of the Sharks games this season, one has to wonder if he can withstand the physical intensity that come along with playoff hockey.
Does Joe Thornton actually improve the Bruins?
The game of hockey is faster than ever before, and Thornton is perhaps slower than he has ever been (age comes for us all, right?).
Thornton is currently in the midst of his least productive season in the NHL, amassing just 25 points in his first 60 games. More shocking is the fact that Thornton only has 5 power play points this season, a situation where he has dominated throughout his career.
In addition, Thornton is having his worst season for faceoff %, CF%, FF%, and plus/minus. Sadly for Bruins fans, this is not the same player they remember from his days with Boston or during the majority of his time with the Sharks.
It’s worth noting that the rumors of Thornton returning to Boston are currently just that: rumors.
Even if the Bruins were interested in trading for Joe, he has a no-trade clause in his contract, so nothing is happening without his blessing. Perhaps Thornton wants to ride off into the sunset in San Jose, or maybe still has hard feelings against a team that didn’t have enough faith in him 15 years ago.
We’ll know for sure in about 24 hours, but the Bruins should ignore the nostalgia and focus on improving in other areas instead.
If the Bruins are interested in making this a reality, would you be in favor of bringing Joe Thornton back to Boston?