Thornton not receiving the star treatment

Joe Thornton is on pace for a respectable 79 points, but we've come to expect better from the 24-year-old star.

Updated: December 18, 2003, 11:59 AM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
We interrupt the regularly scheduled December swoon of the Boston Bruins for something far more troubling, the unexpected decline of Bruins captain Joe Thornton.

Despite their recent inconsistencies, the Bruins (13-6-8-4) are still a respectable fourth in the Eastern Conference with 38 points, although they'd have the fifth seed if the playoffs started today. Middle of the playoff pack is realistically where the Bruins belong because those early-season flirtations with first place were not expected to last.

Mediocrity from Thornton, however, is tougher to accept. The 6-4, 223-pound center has seven goals, 30 points and is a plus-10 through 31 games. He's on pace for a respectable 79 points, but we've come to expect better than respectable from the 24-year-old star. Now in his seventh NHL season and a year after he finished third in scoring with a career-high 101 points (36 goals and 65 assists), a breakout into full-fledged superstardom did not seem unreasonable.


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