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Joe Thornton Conference Call Transcript

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
On Monday, a conference call was held with newly acquired Shark Joe Thornton. The following is the transcript from the call.

Q. Undefeated so far in your first five games as a San Jose Shark. What has the transition been like? Did you ever think it could start off this good?

JOE THORNTON: Well, the transition has been pretty easy. I played with a lot of guys that play on the Sharks, so it's been easy that way. Yeah, the team has just been playing great. You know, obviously they went on a 10-game slide with no wins, but I think they were losing a lot of games by one goal. Now everybody has a lot of confidence and we're playing really well together right now.

Q. What is your take of the hockey club when you look at not only the goals they've been able to score but the way they played defensively, too?

JOE THORNTON: Yeah, they play really tight. Their defensemen have been playing great. (Evgeni) Nabokov has been playing awesome. I think the transition game here in San Jose is very crisp. It suits the offensive players very well because we get the puck so much. Yeah, the defense has been great for us. It's been a pleasure playing with them.

Q. Now that you're five games in, have you noticed very much about playing in the west compared to being with Boston in the east?

JOE THORNTON: Well, to be honest with you, I've played all the east teams so far since I've been in the Western Conference, but I'll get my first taste with Anaheim this weekend. Yeah, it's just a little bit qu icker out here, a little bit more room. So far it's been a good change.

Q. You're five games in. From watching from afar, it looks like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders. Is that fair to say?

JOE THORNTON: You know, in Boston, I never really read the papers. You hear how bad they treat some of their players. I put so much pressure on myself, it doesn't really affect me. But I think my job has been pretty easy with playing with Scotty (Thornton) and Jonathan Cheechoo. Jonathan has been putting the puck in the net, which has been a pleasure to play with so far.

Q. Can you talk about what the team needs to get into the playoffs? That 10-game losing streak put them really a long way behind the eight ball. Even though you've won five in the row, you're still on the outside looking in. Is there a sense in the dressing room that there's enough time to make up this ground?

JOE THORNTON: Oh, yeah. We just got to keep winning our games, you know, keep playing the kind of hockey we've been playing the past five games. We are a confident bunch. We have a young bunch. Yeah, everybody in the dressing room feels like we can make the playoffs for sure.

Q. The Olympic selection thing is going to be in about nine days. I think most of us believe you're going to be there. What would you say about a player like Rick Nash who you played with all of last year, Davos, who had such a strong World Championship but really hasn't had a chance to impress Wayne Gretzky or any of the people making the selection. If I asked you should Nash be on this team on the basis of what he's done in the past, what would be your take?

JOE THORNTON: Yeah, I love playing with Rick. Obviously, I've seen a lot of Rick Nash in the past 12 months, playing with him in Davos, then played with him in the World Championships. He's definitely one of the best forwards in the League. I know he hasn't played so much this year, but his World Championships, he had a great World Championship, and he had a great year with Davos. I hope personally they pick him on the team.

Q. Back to the Olympic selection. How do you see the departures of Lemieux and Yzerman from the team affecting a bit of the leadership void in that room? Do you see that being a bit of an issue?

JOE THORNTON: Well, I think so. I think obviously Mario takes a lot of the media pressure away from some of the younger guys. But I think you see guys like Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, Chris Pronger, Jarome (Iginla). I think a lot of guys have dealt with pressure in their careers, been on Olympic teams, World Cup teams, things like that. I think leadership-wise, there's a lot of it on this Canadian team.

Q. Some people are touting Joe Sakic as kind of an ideal captain. What would you think of him as the guy with the C?

JOE THORNTON: Oh, sure. Joe has played on so many Canadian teams, he' s won g old at the Olympics and won the World Cup and the Sta nley Cup. He definitely has the resume to be the captain. He is a great leader. Yeah, he's a good choice.

Q. Was it kind of an instant chemistry when you got on the ice with Cheechoo and Scott?

JOE THORNTON: Yeah, Jonathan is a great shooter. Just kind of took a practice to know where to give him the puck on the pass. Yeah, it's been instant. He's a pure goal-scorer. Scotty kind of just gives us a little bit more room out there to play. He's been very effective with us, too.

Q. Have you managed to find yourself an apartment yet?

JOE THORNTON: No. I just moved out of Scotty's house. I'm down at the Hilton now in San Jose. We don't play till Friday. I'll be looking all this week to get a house.

Q. This is the week?

JOE THORNTON: Yeah, this is the week. I'll be bearing down and trying to grab something here.

Q. Getting traded in one respect is kind of getting rejected by the team that drafted you, the team you've been with your whole career. Any kind of internal reward with how well you're playing? Is it kind of like, What were you thinking, looking back at Boston at all?

JOE THORNTON: You know what, I don't look in the rearview mirror. I just keep looking forward. It is nice, though, coming out here and helping out the team right away, getting some wins under our belt. Obviously I hope the Bruins do well. I have a lot of friends on the team. I hold no grudges. But I'm a San Jose Shark now, just helping the team.

Q. Are you used to putting on a different jersey yet? Is it weird at all?

JOE THORNTON: Oh, yeah. No, it's not weird any more. Obviously, we've been home for the last couple games with the fans. Yeah, everything feels natural now.

Q. I suspect you're not going to miss winter?

JOE THORNTON: No (laughter). Wore a T-shirt out here yesterday, so it's been nice to me so far.

Q. I noticed Kyle McLaren was the Bruin's No. 1 pick in 1995. Showed a lot of ability, but had a lot of injury seasons. They traded him. Now you're back together. You enjoy playing with McLaren? How is he doing? Is he in good health?

JOE THORNTON: Yeah, Kyle is such a big force for us on the blueline. He feels good and strong. He's been playing great. He's such a big hitter and a big presence out there. I played with Kyle in the past and it's been a pleasure rejoining him.

Q. Brian Rolston, when he signed with Minnesota back in the summer of '04, that was kind of a period where a lot of guys were leaving Boston. Nylander, Gonchar, Knuble. Before the lockout, before you signed last summer, did you get a sense of where the direction of the franchise was heading at that point and what that kind of meant?

JOE THORNTON: I didn't really -- obviously, they got Zhamnov in return, Scatchard in return, Leetch in return. I thought they got some pretty good quality players in return. Obviously they let a couple guys go. I thought they did a pretty good job with grabbing some guys, too.

Q. You played with Brian in Boston for five years. He's now in Minnesota leading the team in scoring. Can you talk about the impact player he was?

JOE THORNTON: Sure. Playing with him for a lot of years, he was just a great two-way player. He has a great shot. He's a great skater. Just an all-around gifted player. He played on the power play on the point for us, was really effective. Yeah, he's a great two-way player. He should be on the U.S. Olympic team.

Q. You had so much success with Muzz (Glen Murray) on your right, whether it be Mike Knuble on your left or Sergei (Samsonov) on your left, yet I don't think you've scored at a pace like this before. Any similarity with Cheechoo and your cousin or is it just something that fits a style that maybe you didn't even know you had?

JOE THORNTON: Yeah, well I think Cheechoo is a little bit like Muzz. He has a great release. Isn't as big as Muzz, doesn't have the overpowering shot that Muzz has, but the same qualities with quick release, very accurate with his shot. I think Scotty is like the left-handed Mike Knuble. He goes in, does a lot of the hard work, creates a lot more space for me and Cheechoo.

Q. January 10th, does that date mean anything to you at this point?

JOE THORNTON: No. I'm looking forward to Friday against Washington. As it creeps a little bit closer, it will be exciting to go back there and play.

Q. How much of a whirlwind has it been, something like five games in nine days from the trade? Is this the first chance you've really had to get to know San Jose a bit, look around?

JOE THORNTON: A little bit. Scotty, my cousin, kind of took me around, drove me around a little bit. I kind of got to know the city a little bit already. But this week is going to be nice just to kind of relax, get a feel, a real feel, for the city.

Q. Has that been a bit of a challenge this year with the schedule, you have these large gaps in games?

JOE THORNTON: It's been tough. Since I've been traded, we've played pretty much two on the road to start, but then we came to San Jose right away and I think we're going to be here for the next week. It 's kind of come at a good time when we're in San Jose for a long period of time.
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