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The Night Joe Thornton Was Traded to San Jose: An Oral History



15 years ago in Dallas, everything changed for the San Jose Sharks.

On November 30, 2005, general manager Doug Wilson sent shockwaves through the hockey world when he acquired Joe Thornton from the Boston Bruins for Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm, and Wayne Primeau.

The 26-year-old would kickstart a San Jose Sharks squad mired in a 10-game losing streak and nine points out of the playoffs at the time of the trade. Thornton made it rain with 92 points in San Jose’s next 58 games, on his way to the 2006 Hart Trophy, and the Sharks would breeze into the post-season.

Jumbo was no one-year wonder, skating 15 unforgettable seasons in teal before signing with Toronto last month:

Joe Thornton as a Shark: A Hockey Card History

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of this franchise-altering deal, Sturm, Niko Dimitrakos, Nolan Schaefer, and Rob Zettler spoke to San Jose Hockey Now for an oral history of the trade.

Wilson walked into the coaches room at American Airlines Center a little bit before the 7:30 PM tilt. The San Jose Sharks had already warmed up and Sharks assistant coach Zettler was with head coach Ron Wilson and assistant coach Tim Hunter.

Rob Zettler: Doug came in and said, “We’ve made a trade. We’ve traded Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau, and Marco Sturm.” We were like, oh okay. He hesitated for a second. Then he said, “And we just got Joe Thornton.”

And we’re like, “Yeah right, yeah right.” We’re all looking at each other. He said, “No, I’m serious. We just traded for Joe Thornton.”

It was a moment of wait a second…Boston traded Joe Thornton? It was a little surreal and took a second to sink in, without a doubt.

Literally, it was my job to go find the guys who we already told we weren’t playing.

Those guys were winger Niko Dimitrakos and defenseman Jim Fahey. But with Stuart, Sturm, and Primeau out of the line-up, Dimitrakos and Fahey needed to be found pronto.

And there were three players that Wilson needed to speak to: Stuart, Sturm, and Primeau. Also in the locker room was rookie goaltender Schaefer, Evgeni Nabokov’s back-up that night.

Marco Sturm: We were on the way out [to the ice] and we were called into the office.

Nolan Schaefer: 100 percent we noticed. I just assumed, at the time, that these players were getting a talk from the GM because we weren’t doing that well. Everybody was kind of buzzing, like what is happening?

Sturm: Even then, I was still young and everything for me was for the first time. Prims, it had already happened to him before, so he knew right away. He asked, “Where are we going?”

Then I realized, “Okay, shit.”

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