Joe Thornton

Former Bruins GM Mike O'Connell says Brian Burke fabricated story about Joe Thornton trade

Former Bruins GM Mike O'Connell says Brian Burke fabricated story about Joe Thornton trade

Did former Anaheim Ducks general manager Brian Burke make up the story about what he offered the Boston Bruins for Joe Thornton in 2005?

That's what former Bruins GM Mike O'Connell is saying. 

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In a Twitter Q&A session last week, Burke said he offered O'Connell whichever player he ranked as the sixth-best on the Ducks roster, another roster player, a prospect and a first-round pick in exchange for a young Thornton, who was having a fantastic season. 

O'Connell contends that Burke never made an official offer for Thornton.

“The details surrounding this story are fabricated and I can confirm that no such offer was made to me as I never informed Anaheim of my intentions to trade Joe Thornton,” O’Connell said, according to The Athletic's Joe McDonald. “Unfortunately, certain personalities never let the truth get in the way of their ultimate goal, self-promotion.”

Regardless of whether or not Burke put in an official offer for Thornton, O'Connell accepted a deal from the San Jose Sharks for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. 

Burke fired back, telling ESPN, among other things, that "It's unfortunate because Mike and I were friends once."  Burke said current Ducks GM Bob Murray was in the room with him when the offer was made. 

Believe who you want to believe, but Burke's supposed offer for Thornton seems like the better deal in hindsight. 

Brian Burke reveals what Ducks would've given Bruins for Joe Thornton in 2005

Brian Burke reveals what Ducks would've given Bruins for Joe Thornton in 2005

It appears the Boston Bruins could've received a lot more for Joe Thornton when they dealt him to the San Jose Sharks in 2005, at least according to Brian Burke. 

During a Twitter Q&A session on Thursday Burke, general manager of the Anaheim Ducks at the time Thornton was traded, revealed he was rather frustrated he couldn't pry the future Hall of Famer from Mike O'Connell's clutches. 

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As for what he would've given up for Thornton -- this one may frustrate B's fans. 

O'Connell ended up dealing Thornton to the Sharks for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. The move cleared cap space for the Bruins to later sign Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, among others, but could what they have received from Anaheim been better?

If the Bruins ended up receiving Anaheim's 2006 first-round draft pick (19th overall), they could've drafted anyone from Claude Giroux who went 22nd overall to the Philadelphia Flyers to Nick Foligno who was drafted 28th overall by the Ottawa Senators. Now, if the first-round pick Burke was willing to give up was indeed a 2006 pick, then the Bruins who drafted Phil Kessel fifth overall that year could've potentially added two stars for the price of one. 

Thinking about that situation alone should make Bruins' fans cringe, but there's more.

Burke noted he would've given up the player who O'Connell ranked as sixth-best on the Ducks roster as well as a prospect. Looking back at that now, the sixth player could've been anyone from Francois Beauchemin to Joffrey Lupul and a prospect could've been the likes of Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry, according to WEEI's Matt Kalman. 

The sixth-best player makes you shake your head because Beauchemin and/or Lupul weren't the greatest, but the first-round pick and possibility of adding Getzlaf or Perry would've been huge for the Bruins. 

If this deal was done in 2020, you'd have to wonder if Don Sweeney would've accepted Burke's offer.

 

Who are the best centers in Bruins history? Ranking the Top 10

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Who are the best centers in Bruins history? Ranking the Top 10

The Bruins aren’t known for Hart Trophy-level centers or NHL-leading scorers who have posted gaudy numbers over the course of the franchise’s history.

If anything, they are known more for dominant defensemen, excellent goaltenders and teams that have been tough, and greater than the sum of their parts, rather than full of starry individuals.

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They have had their share of excellent franchise centers as well, though, even if most of them have either been traded away from the B’s at some point like Phil Esposito or didn’t get to Boston until later in their careers like Adam Oates or Jean Ratelle.

Plenty of Hall of Fame players to choose from here, however, and at least one who will be headed there once he hangs up the skates.

Click here for the Top 10 centers in Bruins history: