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NHL

Bruins' Thornton trade puzzles

By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
Published December 4, 2005

Why in the world would the Bruins trade their captain and so-called franchise player, Joe Thornton ?

Thornton was sent to San Jose last week for three good (not great) players: Marco Sturm , Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart . Why?

Thornton said he was a scapegoat. GM Mike O'Connell , who said so many nice things after the trade that you wonder why he dealt him in the first place, said: "He's a victim? I don't know. I'm not going to comment on that. It's part of pro sports. You don't win, then stuff happens."

Bottom line is the Bruins were tired of Thornton's act. He's immensely talented, but there is a question of how hard he works. In Thornton's seven seasons, the Bruins have won one playoff series. That's not all Thornton's fault, but then again he has only six goals and 12 assists in 35 postseason games, including going pointless when the Bruins were eliminated in a seven-game, opening-round series against Montreal in 2004.

O'Connell said a shakeup was needed. If it doesn't work, you can bet O'Connell's head is next in line for the chopping block.

Meantime, there hasn't been this kind of buzz about a trade since Wayne Gretzky was dealt from Edmonton to Los Angeles. Toronto's Tie Domi called Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs "an embarrassment" who is only interested in finances.

"I question where that organization is going," said Philadelphia's Mike Knuble , a former Bruin. "They're kind of running around. Joe was a franchise player and one of the top players in the league. He gets it done."

He won't be getting it done in Boston anymore. Some question if he ever did.

DO THE RIGHT THING: Gretzky, the Coyotes' coach, has an interesting decision. He believes his goalie, Curtis Joseph , has been the Western Conference MVP and believes Cujo deserves to be on the Canadian Olympic team. That means something considering Gretzky is the general manager for Team Canada.

The Coyotes, however, might benefit from having Joseph, 38, rest during the Olympic break.

But don't look for Gretzky to punish Joseph by putting the Coyotes' interests first.

"It's really not the right thing to do," Gretzky said. "I'll push for him if he deserves to be there absolutely, and right now he deserves to be there. I'm not going to go in there and say, "I need my goaltender to have three weeks off."'

ICY MESS: Dan Craig , icemaker for the Olympics, says the second rink in Turin is a mess and, essentially, has to be rebuilt. The men have only one game there, but most of the women's games are supposed to be there.

"When you flooded the ice it took an hour for the ice to freeze," Craig said. "The existing pipes in the floor are way too small. They're being ripped out."

LIGHTNING DOESN'T STRIKE CHICAGO: First, former Lightning goalie Nikolai Khabibulin went into the tank with the Blackhawks. Then former Lightning defenseman Jassen Cullimore played so poorly he was a healthy scratch. And now the Hawks are fretting over former Lightning defenseman Adrian Aucoin , who is making $4-million and had one goal, five assists and was a minus-6 in the first quarter of the season.

"From a leadership standpoint, I think he has provided us with what we expected," Chicago coach Trent Yawney said. "He's more frustrated than anybody. I can feel his frustration. ... right now it seems every time he tries to take an offensive chance it goes the other way."

OH, NO, ROBERTO: Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo , 2-12 in his past 14 games entering the weekend, said he misses former goalie coach Clint Malarchuk . Panther coach Jacques Martin let Malarchuk go thinking he was going to get goalie coach Francois Allaire , but Allaire re-signed with Anaheim. The Panthers ended up with Phil Myre , who was Martin's goalie coach in Ottawa.

"Clint was my very good friend, he knew me, he knew how to handle me, and it was disappointing for me to see him go because we had such a good relationship," Luongo said. "Clint knew how to get me ready for a game."

ICE CHIPS: There was speculation the Blues could leave St. Louis after a recent potential sale went down the tubes, but the team is contractually obligated to stay at least through the 2010-11 season. ... Columbus' Sergei Fedorov last week became the first Russian-born player to play 1,000 NHL games. How many games does Fedorov, 35, have left? "Hopefully," he said, "another grand." ... TSN's Bob McKenzie reported last week that Detroit's Steve Yzerman , 40, might retire before the season is over, but Wings coach Mike Babcock said he doesn't believe it.

--Information from the Boston Globe, Edmonton Journal, Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald, Delaware County Times, Columbus Dispatch, Tennessean and Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel was used in this report.

[Last modified December 4, 2005, 01:20:10]


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