Boston Bruins: Revisiting the Joe Thornton trade 15 years to the day

Let’s take a look at when the Boston Bruins traded their then captain, Joe Thornton, to the San Jose Sharks.

Exactly 15 years ago today, on Nov. 30, 2005, the Boston Bruins traded their captain at the time, center Joe Thornton, to the San Jose Sharks. This transaction would go on to change these two franchises drastically.

After having another great year in 2003-04 where he scored 73 points (23 goals, 50 assists) in 77 games, Joe Thornton was off to a hot start in 2005-06 after the 2004-05 NHL season was completely canceled due to a lockout.

Through 23 games with the Black and Gold, the then 26-year-old superstar had 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists). Thornton may have been flourishing, but Boston was not.

In an act of desperation, then general manager Mike O’Connell decided to send Jumbo Joe to the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Brad Stuart, center Wayne Primeau, and left wing Marco Sturm.

Bruins Get
Brad Stuart
Wayne Primeau
Marco Sturm
Sharks Get
Joe Thornton

While Thornton went on to have a magnificent Sharks’ career in which he played 1,104 games and scored 1,055 points (251 goals, 804 assists), the same cannot be said for any of the players the B’s received as none of them lasted longer than five seasons in Boston.

The B’s didn’t get anything great out of Stuart. Over two seasons with Boston, the defenseman suited up for 103 games and scored 48 points (17 goals, 31 assists).

Wayne Primeau wasn’t anything special. In 101 games over two seasons, he scored just 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists). Along with Stuart, Primeau would be shipped to the Calgary Flames on Feb. 10, 2007.

The only guy that was truly worth anything for the Bruins was Marco Sturm. Over five seasons with the Black and Gold, Sturm suited up for 302 games and registered 193 points (106 goals, 87 assists). On Dec. 11, 2010, Boston would trade Sturm to the Los Angeles Kings.

Ramifications to the Boston Bruins for trading Joe Thornton.

Many would think that the Bruins lost this trade by a landslide. However, I’m here to say it’s much more complicated than looking at the success and longevity of Thornton’s career.

Ultimately, trading Thornton is a big reason why the B’s were able to win the Stanley Cup back in 2010-11.

With Jumbo Joe out of the picture, center Patrice Bergeron was able to become the team’s top center. This also would allow David Krejci to become the team’s second line center.

With more available cap space, Boston was able to sign defenseman Zdeno Chara to a five-year deal with a $7.5 million average annual value (AAV) on July 2, 2006.

All three of Chara, Bergeron, and Krejci have been huge parts of Boston’s sustained success over the last couple of decades. Without any one of these three players, who knows if the B’s are able to win the Stanley Cup in 2010-11, let alone any season during Thornton’s career.

Furthermore, this move signaled the end of O’Connell’s tenure as the B’s GM. He would be fired on March 25, 2006, just about four months after trading Jumbo Joe.

If this trade doesn’t happen, there’s a possibility O’Connell remains Boston’s GM, leading to Claude Julien never becoming the team’s head coach. Once again, hindering the organization from winning the Stanley Cup.

Yes, Thorton was able to win the Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy the season he was traded while the Bruins went on to miss the playoffs that season and the next, however, Thornton and the Sharks still have not won a Cup.

With this being said, I think this deal is a lot closer to a draw than most people think.