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Thornton scores 1,500th NHL point with two for Sharks

Center becomes 14th player at milestone with assists against Flames

by Mike Battaglino / Staff Writer

Labanc roofs backhand

SJS@CGY: Thornton gets 1,500th point on Labanc's goal

Kevin Labanc whips a backhand shot top shelf to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead, while Joe Thornton gets his 1,500th NHL point with an assist

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Joe Thornton became the 14th player to score 1,500 NHL points with two assists for the San Jose Sharks against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

"I just said it means I'm getting old," the 40-year-old said. "But it just means I've played on a lot of good teams, played with a lot of great players. I'm just fortunate to stay healthy. That's all that really means."

Thornton had an assist on a goal by Brent Burns 3:57 into the second period and on a goal by Kevin Labanc at 7:45 of the third period in a 3-1 win.

"It's amazing," San Jose coach Bob Boughner said. "We all knew where he was sitting, obviously, before the game. Just to see the way those goals were scored and what he did to create those ... his hard work, his vision, hard stick, heavy stick ... he won some battles. He's playing, I think, some of the best hockey I've seen him play in the last couple of years, really. Who knows what he's got left in the tank, but he just keeps going."

Thornton has 415 goals and 1,085 assists in 1,620 games over 22 seasons with the Sharks and Boston Bruins. He has 22 points (two goals, 20 assists) in 54 games this season.

"I thought it was his 3,500th point for how much he's yapping," San Jose forward Evander Kane said. "... No, I didn't know that until they were flipping the puck to the bench. Obviously a storied career. His production keeps trucking along. He continues to get up there in age and he still has that great vision and is able to make great plays to find open guys and he has great poise. You saw that on display a little bit tonight."

Thornton has 1,046 points (246 goals, 800 assists) in 1,088 games for the Sharks, who acquired the center in a trade with the Bruins on Nov. 30, 2005.

"It's insane. He's one of the best to ever play. He's an absolute legend," San Jose forward Barclay Goodrow said. "It's pretty special coming to the rink and seeing him every day, watch him do his thing for the last five, six years I've been here. It's pretty special."

He had 454 points (169 goals, 285 assists) in 532 games for the Bruins, who selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft.

"I think once you're done you'll kind of look back at it," Thornton said. "Right now I just continue to stay in the moment. I know how cliché that is, but keep it day-to-day. That's how I'll keep it until I'm done."

Thornton made his NHL debut on Oct. 8, 1997. His first point was a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 3, 1997, in his 21st game.

"Whether things are going bad or good he's always joking around with the guys and keeping things light and keeping the focus, too, at the same time," Kane said. "It's great to be able to play with him and have him around the room and off the ice too, he's a fun guy to be around. We enjoy it. Hopefully he continues to keep playing as long as he can."

Thornton is 31 points behind Paul Coffey for 13th in NHL history. Wayne Gretzky is first with 2,857.

"I know all the names," Thornton said. "I've been a hockey fan since '84, probably. I know all of the names. I've lived and breathed hockey my entire life. To be up there with these guys, it's very humbling."



Wayne Gretzky, 2,857

Jaromir Jagr, 1,921

Mark Messier, 1,887

Gordie Howe, 1,850

Ron Francis, 1,798

Marcel Dionne, 1,771

Steve Yzerman, 1,755

Mario Lemieux, 1,723

Joe Sakic, 1,641

Phil Esposito, 1,590

Ray Bourque, 1,579

Mark Recchi, 1,533

Paul Coffey, 1,531

Joe Thornton, 1,500 independent correspondent Aaron Vickers contributed to this report

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