The National Hockey League announced live on OLN that Joe Thornton was named the winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded “to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.” The winner was selected in a poll conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season. He is the first Sharks player to win the award and the first to win it during a season in which he was traded.
Click here to watch Thornton's acceptance speech.
Thornton edged Jaromir Jagr by a count of 1,058 to 974 and topped the Rangers winger in first place votes 67-48.
Thornton also was named a First Team NHL All-Star, grabbing 124 of the 126 first place votes for the center position. He was joined by wingers Jaromir Jagr and Alexander Ovechkin, blueliners Nicklas Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer, and netminder Miikka Kiprusoff. Jonathan Cheechoo finished 15th Hart Trophy balloting and was third in All-Star Team voting for right wing.
After watching Jagr win the Lester Pearson Award, Thornton didn’t know what to expect.
“I was very humbled,” said Thornton. A lot of great names are on the trophy – Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier. I’m just happy to be mentioned. Now I want to keep winning it.”
Thornton is happy to spread the wealth in winning the award.
“There are so many good people in our room,” said Thornton. “It starts with Patty (Marleau) and trickles down.
The league’s top player knows the award will bring added attention in 2006-07.
“You definitely looked at differently,” said Thornton.
The man who benefited the most from Thornton’s pin-point passing, Jonathan Cheechoo was happy for his center.
“It couldn’t have happened to a better person,” said Cheechoo. “I almost missed it because I had to go take pictures in the back. I watched in the side door with the security guard.”
Fitting that Cheechoo was manning the wing.
Thornton knows what piece of hardware he next wants to collect.
“The next trophy I want to win is the Stanley Cup,” said Thornton.
And to think that seven months ago, Thornton had never lived east of Ontario.
“I’m just happy they traded for me and glad to be a Shark,” said Thornton. “It’s been a crazy year
Thornton led the League with 125 points (29 goals, 96 assists) in 81 games this season, becoming the first member of the Sharks to win the Art Ross Trophy. After being acquired by the Sharks on Nov. 30, he posted 92 points (2nd in franchise history) and 72 assists (a franchise record) in helping the Sharks to a 36-15-7 record in his 58 games with the team. With 96 assists, the 16th most in NHL history, Thornton became just the 11th player to surpass 90 assists in a single season. His 125 points make him the most-prolific scorer in the history of NHL by a player who played for two teams in one season.
During the 2005-06 season, Thornton was the Seagate Technology “Sharks Player of the Year,” Seagate Technology “Sharks Player of the Month” for December and April and the NHL Offensive Player of the Week for the weeks of Dec. 5-11 and April 10-16. The six-foot-four, 223-pound native of London, Ontario competed for Team Canada’s men’s ice hockey team at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Upon his arrival in San Jose, Thornton made an immediate impact with the Sharks, setting a franchise record by recording six consecutive multi-point games and helping the team to six consecutive victories in his first six contests. He concluded the season in similar fashion, posting six consecutive multi-point games from April 6 thru April 15, including posting the primary assist on all four Sharks goals in a 4-3 overtime win. Thornton also tied a franchise record by recording assists in eight consecutive games from Dec. 2–20.
Thornton captured his first scoring title after being acquired by the Sharks on Nov. 30 from Boston in exchange for defenseman Brad Stuart and forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau. He is the first Shark to ever win the Hart Memorial Trophy.