‘Jumbo Joe’s’ #19 to be retired by Greyhounds

The Soo Greyhounds Hockey Club is excited to announce a special ceremony scheduled for our home game on November 4, 2023. 

On this date, the Hounds will proudly host the return of alumni Joe Thornton to have his #19 jersey raised to the rafters of the GFL Memorial Gardens.

“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. 

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.”

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.

“I remember how excited I was when I was drafted to the Greyhounds. Such a long standing organization and so many NHL players whose professional journey started there” said Thornton.

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.

The 1997 NHL Draft saw the St. Thomas, ON native selected 1st overall by the Boston Bruins.

He would go on to play 24 seasons combined with Boston, San Jose, Toronto and Florida.

Through 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 last played professionally on April 29, 2022 with the Panthers.

Internationally Joe played for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship (1997), World Cup (2004), IIWF Championship (2005), Winter Olympics (2006) and Winter Games (2010) while also competing for HC Davos twice in the Spengler Cup and once in the Swiss Cup.

Tickets for this night, and all regular season games, are on-sale now at the GFL Memorial Gardens Box Office Monday to Friday 10 AM to 4 PM or online at https://gflgardens.evenue.net/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/SEGetEventList?groupCode=GH&linkID=global-steelback&shopperContext=&caller=&appCode=.

Current forward Christopher Brown will continue to wear the number 19 through the start of the 2023-24 season before passing it on to team history.

When asked how he felt about the festivities on November 4th, Thornton concluded with;

“I remember playing at the Gardens and looking up every night at the retired jerseys. To think that my number will be up alongside those names… well, it is unexpected and a huge honour!”

Joe will be accompanied in Sault Ste. Marie by his wife Tabea, children Ayla and River along with his parents Wayne and Mary.

For more information on this event and all upcoming events, stay tuned to the team’s website at soogreyhounds.com along with their social media network on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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