Nobody does it alone: Thorburn on 700 games


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BOSTON — Seven hundred games in, and the battles keep raging on for Winnipeg Jets forward Chris Thorburn.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/11/2016 (2383 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BOSTON — Seven hundred games in, and the battles keep raging on for Winnipeg Jets forward Chris Thorburn.

The 33-year-old Sault St. Marie, Ont., native, in his 11th season in the NHL, reached that milestone Thursday night in Philadelphia. Not bad for a self-proclaimed bubble guy.

“Since I was drafted, every camp’s been a battle,” Thorburn said Friday. “It’s been a long road. I’m fortunate to have a good support team. Family and friends have all played a big role in my success, and I owe a lot to them.

“It’s been a long road, but it’s been a fun road, and I’ve met a lot of good people along the way. I’m proud and humbled to get to this point.”

Thorburn, in his sixth season in Winnipeg, has also worn the jerseys of the Buffalo Sabres — who selected him in the second round of 2001 NHL Draft — the Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers.

He was one-third of the club’s popular GST line, with Tanner Glass and Jim Slater, during the inaugural season for the Jets 2.0. And he’s had more than his fair share of bouts with other heavyweights around the league.

It’s a job the 6-3, 235-pounder prepared himself for in the Buffalo system, despite racking up 79 goals and 203 points in five years of junior in the Ontario Hockey League.

Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press files Winnipeg Jets' 33-year-old Chris Thorburn, pictured during training camp in September, is now in his 11th NHL season.

“My game changed when I went pro. Out of junior, I was a skill guy, but (head coach) Randy Cunneyworth in Rochester was the guy that really turned my game around and helped me become the pro I needed to be to make the NHL level,” Thorburn said. “It helped me evolve from a scorer to kind of guy I needed to be with my size.”

Thorburn has just one goal this season, the 50th of his career, and is still looking for his first assist. Over his career, he’s chipped in 74 helpers.

Thorburn doesn’t wear a letter on his chest, but as a veteran playing for an organization forging ahead with youth, his words carry weight.

“He keeps driving. He’s in fantastic shape, he might be the most positive guy in the room. He’s probably the best-liked by all people,” said Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice. “Chris is one of those guys that will honestly and earnestly spend as much time with an 18- or 19-year-old kid as the other veterans. He doesn’t sequester himself with the old guys. He connects to everyone in the room.”

Maurice said while the game changes and there’s a decreased role for the resident police officer, Thorburn continues to be a valued member of the Central Division squad.

“That’s 700 the hard way,” he said. “That role is as mentally demanding as any other role in sports. I’ve never played that role and am not sure where fear fits into it, but you certainly have an awareness and anticipation (you might have to fight).

“(Fighting) is going out of the game, so there has to be something else. He skates really well, that’s the advantage that he has… Chris won’t be in the lineup every night, and he handles that really well as a pro. With a young team, they can skate freely when he’s there because it quiets the game down.” Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Thorburn warms up for his sprint test during medical testing at Jet's training camp in September.
Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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