Preparations are ramping up and the Soo Greyhounds Hockey Club is excited to welcome Joe Thornton, his family and special guests to Sault Ste. Marie this weekend.
This Saturday, November 4th the Ontario Hockey League Club will be retiring Thornton’s #19 to the rafters of the GFL Memorial Gardens when the Hounds host the Windsor Spitfires.
Game time is 7:07 PM.
“We are extremely proud to have the opportunity to invite Joe and his family back to the Soo to recognize him for his efforts as a Greyhound but also for his long, storied career in professional hockey,” stated Tim Lukenda, President and Governor of the Soo Greyhounds previously.
Lukenda continued, “Joe is one of the most recognizable hockey players in the world and we are extremely proud to welcome him back to honour him as part of the Soo Greyhound family. As we say, ‘Once a Greyhound, always a Greyhound’ and Jumbo was one of the very best to wear the red and white.”
This weekend’s ceremony comes fresh off the announcement by Joe of his official retirement from the National Hockey League after 24 seasons split between the Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Florida Panthers.
In 1,714 NHL games played, Joe recorded 430 goals and 1109 assists, good for 1539 points while captaining both the Bruins and Sharks and participated in six NHL All-Star Games.
He was the 2005-06 Art Ross Trophy Recipient as NHL’s Top Scorer and Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP.
The 44-year old had last played professionally on April 29, 2022 with the Panthers.
Before his decorated professional career Thornton was originally selected in the 1st Round (2nd overall) of the 1995 OHL Priority Selection by the Greyhounds from the St. Thomas Stars Jr. B Hockey Club.
Over the course of 125 regular season games through two seasons (1995-96 and 1996-97), Thornton recorded 71 goals and 127 assists, good for 198 points.
He added 21 points (12G, 9A) in 15 post-season games.
He was named the Hounds Rookie of the Year (95/96), Top Scorer, Regular Season MVP and Three Star Award Winner in 1996-97 (96/97).
Meanwhile he received league-wide recognition by being named to the OHL All-Rookie Team, was named OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year in 1996 while was named to the OHL Second All-Star Team in 1997.
“I love the Soo. I always felt loved and welcomed there. It is a blue collar town, I fit in there, I played their style of hockey and I think people liked that” said Joe looking back on his time in the Lock City.
Great seats are still available for this night by visiting the GFL Memorial Gardens Box Office 10 AM to 5 PM weekdays, starting at 10 AM Saturday or online anytime 24/7 at https://gflgardens.evenue.net/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/SEGetEventList?groupCode=GH&linkID=global-steelback&shopperContext=&caller=&appCode=.