Exorcising the Demons?

Joe Thornton celebrates after scoring the OT winner against the Kings in round 1

Art Ross, Hart and President Trophies have defined the career of Joe Thornton. For most players that would be a good thing.

Not for “no show.”

Thornton’s ability to pick apart and dissect defences around the league is his trademark. Threading the needle would be an understatement to describe what Joe Thornton does. At least during the regular season.

The playoffs, where legends are made, have been a different beast for Thornton. All the awards and accolades that Joe Thornton has received during the regular season have defined him because of his inability to duplicate that success in the playoffs.

Thornton is your typical underachiever. It may be cruel but he has rightfully been dubbed “No Show Joe.”

Despite consistently leading his teams into the playoffs as high seeds, Joe Thornton has never reached a Stanley Cup Final. Early exits at the hands of heavy underdogs is nothing new to him.

Even “No Show Joe’s” all San Jose line for Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics failed to live up to expectations. They were the worst trio for Team Canada. Luckily, Canadian hockey has more depth than an Olympic sized swimming pool.

This year looks to be different though. Seeded 2nd in the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks have jumped out to a 3-0 lead against the perennial Stanley Cup contending Red Wings.

Joe Thornton is finally doing his thing. Average Joe isn’t a bad thing for him.

Thornton scored the overtime winner against the L.A. Kings in game 6 of the first round that advanced his Sharks to the Conference Semi-Finals. It doesn’t matter that the puck fell into his lap off of a lucky bounce. All that matters is that he put the puck in the net.

Roberto Luongo said that the feeling of defeating the Blackhawks in game 7 was better than winning the gold medal. That feeling couldn’t have been too far off for Joe Thornton.

His career .74 points per game average in the playoffs is quite far off his career regular season average of 1.01 per game. However, it isn’t just the points average rather it has been his lack of presence in the big games. Thornton carries on his even keel demeanor, while other players turn their intensity up a notch or two. His play suffers because of it.

In the pivotal game 3 against the Red Wings on Wednesday, Joe Thornton had 3 assists in a 4-3 victory.

A lot of fans’ knees are jerking as they are already shedding the choke label off of Joe Thornton.

Not so fast there folks.

Thornton is going to have to do a lot more than sweep the Red Wings in round 2 to shed the label. He is also going to need more than taking down the Predators or Canucks in the Conference Finals, the spot where the Sharks were beaten by the Blackhawks in 2010.

Joe Thornton needs to win a Stanley Cup.

“No Show Joe” will live on unless the captain can finally lead his team to the Promised Land.

Championships shouldn’t define players in team sports. I’m a big believer in that. Hockey, basketball and football are all team games. You can’t win a championship all by yourself.

Joe Thornton is one of the exceptions.

“No Show” has played on some great teams. He has played for good coaches. He has played with outstanding players. The missing link to these championship runs hasn’t been a mystery.

Showing up this year will exorcise the demons for Joe Thornton. He doesn’t need to carry the Sharks on his back but a Stanley Cup victory would sure take the weight of the world off his shoulders.

Related: Rings Don’t Mean a Thing

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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