Sportinterview

Joe Thornton: Game on!

It is a second World Cup for Joe Thornton, who was born in Canada, but currently playing for San Jose Sharks in the NHL. It is a second final for him in the World Cup tournament as well representing Team Canada. And it is second time for a chance to win the Cup. On Tuesday, September 27th, his native team will clash against united Team Europe in the first game of the playoff-like best-of-three Final series.

You want to say that Team Europe doesn’t have a chance to win, do you?

– They sure do have a chance. But we have to play the game and see. We know what to expect, we know what kind of game they are going to play, or what kind of goaltender we are up against. It definitely helps. And I am excited to play tomorrow, because they are going to play their best. That is their chance to win something huge. It is going to be big. Doesn’t matter, who is in front of us: it is a hockey game and we are there to win. When the puck drops, it is game on.

How much could we talk about experience in that case as none of the guys on European roster have won any gold medals in any international competitions?

– But they have the guys, who won Stanley Cups and things like that. They got some pretty darn good hockey players. Kopitar is arguably one of the best centers in the league. Chara is a great shut down guy. So it isn’t about just gold medals…

You have played against Kopitar in the playoffs numerous times. Could you put me in your skates and describe what it is like to face him?

– Kopitar is strong, big, and fast. He protects pucks and has great shot, great vision. He is probably one of the top three centers in the game right now. He is just that good and powerful. He is a big game player and a stud.

Looking around your locker room, you see a lot of leaders in the same place…

– Yeah, everybody seems to be a captain on the other team. It is not lacking leadership -that is for sure. We have quality guys, quality people, and great coaches… Overall Team Canada is a quality group of people all around. And it is not about individuals, but about who wins at the end of the day. Canada in general had incredible results in the last years. Nobody shocked that we are here today. Everybody feels comfortable in that situation.

The last World Cup you took part in was in 2004. Do you recall any memories of those times at all?

– It’s been 12 years since the last one. I think at that point we all thought that the world cup would be the more regular thing. We all did. It was exciting; we had a great team. It was a little different format back then. But it was a great tournament. Obviously lock out came, so nobody played hockey that entire year, so taking part in the World Cup was huge for a lot of guys. And it was a thrill to win.

What are your thoughts on the new format of the tournament?

– I like this new format. The tournament changes every once in a while, so it is going to be cool. A little playoff series, which is a neat theory, I think.

How much in your opinion the momentum plays a factor for Team Europe going into the Finals?

– They are playing well. They beat a great team in Sweden. So I expect their confidence to be high and ready to play tomorrow.

Photo Vika Bulakhava