Sharks' most important trades in team history: Acquiring Joe Thornton


Sharks' most important trades in team history: Acquiring Joe Thornton

Editor's Note: For having only existed as an NHL franchise for 27 seasons, the Sharks sure have been involved in a seemingly inordinate number of headline-stealing trades. Some of the greatest players in San Jose franchise history have been acquired via trade, and each has inevitably played a major role in the successful evolution from expansion team to perennial cup contender. This week, NBC Sports California will look back at the five most important trades in Sharks franchise history, concluding with the trade for Joe Thornton.

What other trade could it have been?

On Nov. 30, 2005, the Sharks acquired superstar center Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins for defenseman Brad Stuart and forwards Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau. Sturm (1996) and Stuart (1998) were first-round picks in the NHL drafts that sandwiched Thornton’s (1997), but that package for this player? 

It was -- and remains -- general manager Doug Wilson’s crown jewel in terms of trades, a coup that immediately catapulted the Sharks in to Stanley Cup contention. 

San Jose finished two wins shy of the Final in the previous season, but a lockout wiped away the entirety of the 2004-05 NHL season. The Sharks floundered in their return to the ice, going 8-12-4 in their first 24 games.

The immediate aftermath of the trade was a sign of things to come. Thornton assisted on two Jonathan Cheechoo goals in his Sharks debut, and San Jose won each of his first six games. 

Thornton eventually won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player that season, and although the Sharks were eliminated in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, his arrival marked a clear turning point for the franchise. San Jose no longer was knocking on the door, but had entered a new era defined by sky-high expectations. 

It took the Sharks time to live up to them. San Jose failed to advance out of the second round of the postseason during Thornton’s first three seasons in teal, and won just one game in back-to-back Western Conference finals in 2010 and 2011. 

That’s not to say Thornton was to blame. He scored at least 0.8 points per game in each of his first 11 seasons in teal, and scored no fewer than 65 points in any 82-game campaign during that time. Only seven Sharks had scored as many points in a single season before Thornton’s arrival. 

The Thornton trade single-handedly raised the bar for the franchise, and fundamentally altered the lens through which the Sharks were viewed. No other moment in club history has come close.

San Jose’s first-round upset over the Detroit Red Wings in 1994 showed the team was no joke, and its first appearance in the Western Conference final a decade later demonstrated that long playoff runs were possible. But the acquisition of Thornton -- a genuine superstar and probable Hall of Famer whose best years came with the Sharks -- was something else entirely. 

The Sharks have not yet won a Stanley Cup in Thornton’s tenure, and they have only reached the Final once. Each early exit brings disappointment for fans of San Jose and of the sport because of Thornton. 

[RELATED: Sharks' Kane strongly calls out racism in hockey in IG post]

In their nearly three decades of existence, no other player the Sharks have traded for has left such a mark. Thornton began his career in Boston, but San Jose will be the first city that comes to mind when he eventually hangs up his skates. 

The Sharks have made plenty of big trades since that day in 2005, but none have had the same franchise-altering impact. It’s hard to imagine any other will.

Most important trades in Sharks history

No. 5 -- Owen Nolan
No. 4 -- Doug Wilson
No. 3 -- Erik Karlsson
No. 2 -- Brent Burns

Sharks' Logan Couture buys Peloton to stay in shape during coronavirus halt

Sharks' Logan Couture buys Peloton to stay in shape during coronavirus halt

The first rule of quarantine is simple. If you want to exercise and can't leave your house, buy a Peloton.

With the NBA, NHL and MLB all paused or delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Bay Area's best have been finding ways to keep busy.

For Sharks captain Logan Couture, that hasn't amounted to a lot of physical activity during the shelter-in-place order.

During an NHL Zoom conference call with Marc-Andre Fleury, Anze Kopitar and Ryan Getzlaf, the Sharks forward said he and his girlfriend are hunkered down in the South Bay and have been reading and binge-watching shows. But he's working to change that, so he ordered a Peloton exercise bike which is slated to arrive Saturday.

“Ordered it 10 days ago and it’s supposed to arrive Saturday," Couture said. “I’m looking forward to that.”

Couture missed the last game the Sharks played due to a concussion from taking a puck to the jaw, but he says he's feeling better now.

He hopes the Peloton can help get his fitness back to where he would like it to be.

“I haven’t been able to do much in terms of exercise," Couture said. “I’ve tried to stay home as much as possible — working on body-weight stuff — I’m not in the best shape.”

[RELATED: Couture picks Thornton as teammate he'd least want to quarantine with]

Hopefully, the Peloton arrived on time.

Brent Burns' 2017 OT winner vs. Rangers could've meant more to Sharks


Brent Burns' 2017 OT winner vs. Rangers could've meant more to Sharks

Programming note: Relive Brent Burns' overtime winner against the New York Rangers from 2017 when NBC Sports California re-airs the classic game on Saturday, March 28 at 3 p.m.

It could have been a turning-point moment in the 2016-17 Sharks' season.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer's club entered the March 28, 2017 game against the New York Rangers at SAP Center having lost six consecutive games. With the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the horizon, DeBoer knew the Sharks needed to get back to playing their brand of hockey if they were going to make any noise in the postseason.

The Sharks raced out to a 3-1 lead thanks to goals from Jannik Hansen, Melker Karlsson and Chris Tierney. With Martin Jones recording several quality saves through the first period-and-a-half, the Sharks looked to be well on their way to an easy win.

But the Rangers came storming back, scoring three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead and quiet what had been a raucous SAP Center. With a seventh straight loss barrelling toward them, the Sharks dug deep to snap their losing streak. Tierney scored his second goal of the game at 17:45 in the third period, tying the game and sending the contest to OT.

That's when Brent Burns, amid a 16-game goal-scoring drought, one-timed a pass from Joe Pavelski past Henrik Lundqvist to put the Sharks back in the win column.

“We needed a win. That’s the bottom line. We needed a win, whatever it looked like,” DeBoer said after the win. “I’m glad it looked the way it did because I thought we strung some really good stretches where I thought we looked like we should look.

“The fact we won and got that monkey off our back and how we won and how we looked for long periods makes me feel good about it.”

[RELATED: Why Couture thinks Jumbo would be bad quarantine partner]

Burns lighting the lamp in OT to snap a dreaded six-game losing streak should have been the catalyst for something bigger. The Sharks' forward depth was on full display that night and they were expecting to get Logan Couture back in the coming days. Unfortunately for the 2017 Sharks, the feeling was short-lived. Their inconsistent play continued to hamper them down the stretch. The Sharks finished the season 3-3 and then lost to the Edmonton Oilers in six games in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nevertheless, it's certainly a game that's worth re-living during these unprecedented times.