BOSTON – Joe Thornton is back in Boston to face the Bruins.
The perennial All-Star has been back many times since he was dealt to San Jose in November 2005, but this time things are a little different because for the first time in 39 years the Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"I enjoy it. I still have quite a few friends here and we usually get to stay the night, so it's nice," said Thornton about being back where he was drafted in 1997 and played his first seven NHL seasons. "I always love coming back. It's a great sports town and I have a lot of fond memories here."
Although most of the names and faces in black and gold have changed since Thornton's days on Causeway Street, he said he still keeps in touch with the training staff. And once he and the Sharks were knocked out of the playoffs by Vancouver in the Western Conference Final, Thornton said he backed the Eastern Conference representative while watching the Stanley Cup Final.
"I was actually cheering for them in the finals. You know after losing to Chicago [in 2010] and Chicago hoisting it up, and it would've been hard seeing Vancouver hoisting it," Thornton said. "So I was cheering for them and I've still got a lot of friends over there. So I was happy for them."
Thornton reached 1,000 NHL games played Friday night in New Jersey, and also scored his first goal against the Devils. Although he's a veteran, it wasn't that long ago that he was a teenager who was projected to be the player that would bring the Cup back to Boston. However, he says he never reflected on Boston's triumph that way.
"It's so long ago, you're just so consumed with what you've got to do in San Jose, there's no ‘what ifs,'" he said.