Archive for the ‘Thornton vs. Sakic’ Category

Couch Tarts: why Joe Thornton should be the All-Decade Center

February 17, 2009

(Earlier today, Jibblescribbits argued the case for Joe Sakic to be All-Decade Center. Now, for the pro-Thornton take, we enlisted the help of Mina from the always entertaining San Jose Sharks blog Couch Tarts. Go there for the adorable doodles, stay for the witty banter.)

Voters of the Hockey Blogosphere, when it come to making your choice for best center of the decade, there is only one true candidate: Joe Thornton. Don’t know much about Joe Thornton since he left the Boston and you couldn’t stay up for Sharks games? Can’t find Sharks games on national TV? Didn’t know that hockey was played in California? Fret not dear reader, it’s time to enlighten you about the awesomeness that is Jumbo Joe.

Joe Thornton has everything that you need in a hockey player: speed, skill, and the ability to make players around him better. You want a player who cares more about his fellow players?Joe Thornton is your guy.

Despite the fact that he consistently takes close to 100 shots per season, Joe has had more than 50 assists in 6 of the 9 seasons of this decade. That includes this season, which isn’t even over yet. He almost singlehandedly helped Jonathan Cheechoo win the “Rocket” Richard Trophy in his first season with the Sharks. Joe Thornton is one of only three players with consecutive 90 assist seasons. The other guys? Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. Not bad company there. Joe Thornton is a player who is selfless and helps others more than himself.

Sure we know that everyone is concerned about what a candidate will do when they reach the playoffs. Sure Joe had some rough years while in Boston. But that is all in the past. You want to look at a candidate’s recent performance and 30 points in 35playoff games over 3 seasons shows the kind of performance you can come to expect from Big Joe. Plus at 6’4″ and 235 lbs, Joe has the size to be able to take on all playoff foes and come out on top.

Despite being Canadian, Joe was made to live in California. He has the laid-back surfer attitude and chronic allergy to shirts that all good surfer boys need. And really isn’t that one of the most important qualities that you need in a player that is asked the lead a team: the ability to relax after a game so they can focus their energy on the game.

There are many things that make Joe Thornton the perfect center for your hockey team needs. Size, speed, a deadly passing ability, and the ability to make those around him better make Joe Thornton the greatest center of the decade. And remember, a vote for Joe Thornton is a vote for shirtless locker room interviews.

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Jibblescribbits: Why Joe Sakic should be the All-Decade Center

February 17, 2009

(On Saturday, Earl Sleek wrote a great post covering one of the burning questions of the All-Decade team selection process: Niedermayer or Pronger? Today, Jibblescribbits covers one half of the other great discussion: Sakic vs. Thornton. Once you’re done reading about Burnaby Joe make sure to head over to his great blog that covers the Colorado Avalanche and hockey in general.)

Normally when I’m given a side in a point-counter-point argument The first thing I do is I try to mentally argue the other side in my head. Knowing your enemy gives you more ammunition and the ability to rebut the other side’s argument before they even make it, defusing it. But for this argument I have a hard time doing that, and that is because I cannot come up with one good reason to pick Joe Thornton over Joe Sakic for the all-decade team. (And I’m a huge Thornton fan)

Jos Sakic won his Conn Smythe in 1996 so I can’t use that. I guess all I am left with is a Hart, Lester B. Pearson, Lady Byng (all in ’01) NHL All-Star MVP (which I’ll admit isn’t worth a whole lot), and 3 NHL all first teams (’01, ’02, ’04). He’s also got one of those Stanley Cups in ’01 and then a Gold Medal (and Olympic MVP) in ’02. Instead of listing his all-star appearences, I’ll just list the years he didn’t go: ’03, ’08, ’09. All three of those years happened to be because he was injured.

Thornton has a Hart, and leads Super Joe Sakic in regular season points over the last decade 708-650(even though Sakic leads in goals 248-221), so there’s an argument that could be made here.

But dig any deeper and that argument quickly breaks down. Add in playoff points and it’s a virtual tie in points (747-744 edge to Thornton). Sakic also has over 400 less PIM than Thornton. Based on merits alone Sakic has a slight edge, but there’s more to hockey than stats.

I’m not a big fan of calling someone clutch. I think “clutch” is overused and is misunderstood. With a small sample size anyone can get lucky and appear to be clutch, and anyone can have a slump at the wrong time and look like a choker. I’m not going to call Thornton a choker, because that wouldn’t be fair (nor accurate).

That being said if there ever is such a thing as clutch.. well Joe Sakic is it. In the playoffs he’s playing at a smidgen under a point per game pace (94 points in 96 games) while Thornton has struggled to keep his regular season form in the playoffs (only 39 points in 53 games). And yes, Cups count. Thornton could win one this season (and I hope he does) but Sakic has 1 and there can’t be enough said of his trancendent Olympic Performance in Salt Lake in ’02. For what it’s worth, Sakic also has, and not too put too much hyperbole on it, the greatest goal of the decade on his resume. I consider a Game 7 series icer in which he makes not one, but 2 future hall of famers look silly while firing off his iconic wrist shot the greatest goal in history. Sure there’s more significant ones, but in sheer terms of skill combined with what was at stake they don’t get any better than this:

(1:44 mark)

None of this is any disrespect to Joe Thornton. I think he’s a fantastic player and certainly belongs in the discussion of greatest centers of the last 10 years. But he’s not at the top. Joe Sakic is. His regular season stats combine with his postseason stats to make him the best center of the last 10 (cough 15-20) years.