Joe Thornton officially passed Adam Oates on the NHL’s all-time scoring list in the most fitting way possible: With an assist. No, Thornton’s secondary setup on Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s odd overtime-winner against the Coyotes on Saturday won’t be confused with the tape-to-tape passes that made Thornton and Oates famous. A milestone is a milestone, however. After all, it was point no. 1421 of his career, and moved Thornton into sole possession of 17th in league history. This season alone, Thornton has passed Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Jari Kurri, Dale Hawerchuk, and Doug Gilmour on the all-time scoring list, as well as Oates. Bryan Trottier, with 1425 points, is the next player Thornton can pass, while Teemu Selanne is 36 points ahead of the Sharks center. Trottier, Selanne, and every remaining player ahead of Thornton is immortalized in the Hockey Hall of Fame. If that notion seems obvious, well, it is. But what should normally go without saying bears repeating as Thornton enters the twilight of his career. So, here goes: Thornton is a mortal lock for enshrinement in Toronto, and Sharks fans should not take that fact for granted.
As he climbs scoring charts, appreciate Thornton’s greatness while you can
NBC Sports Bay Area | Jan 15