Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

A (Possible) Farewell to Chris Thorburn

Nothing is set in stone. Nothing has been announced.

Chris Thorburn could play hockey next year. If he does, he could play for the Manitoba Moose or the Winnipeg Jets. He could retire and become part of the Jets organization like Jimmy Roy or Mike Keane.

That said, Thorburn is about to play the final game of his current contract, and if the team does the right thing, it will be his last in the polar night blue.

We say farewell and best of luck to Thorburn.

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Chris Thorburn is a NHL veteran of 749 games, soon to be 750. Over those games he posted 52 goals and 75 assists for 127 total points.  708 of these games (well 709 soon) was all played for the Atlanta-Winnipeg franchise.

I know some have seen me post negative comments about Chris Thorburn, but I want to put it out there that it had nothing to do with Thorburn himself, but rather the decisions I viewed as sub-optimally being made by the Jets’ hockey operations.

Thorburn is a player with great character. I’ve heard many, many positive stories and anecdotes on his personality and attitude. He always gives his fullest effort and left everything on the ice. It also takes a tonne of guts to do what he does every game-day for years.

I want to point out that while Thorburn currently performs below NHL replacement level, it was not always that way. Thorburn is not some talentless hack.

In the OHL Thorburn put up 203 points in 253 games. In his final junior season he put up 71 points in 64 games.

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Thorburn was no bum either in the AHL, putting up 102 points over 211 games. His final full season in the AHL Thorburn even reached 50 points.

He was at one time a fairly useful NHL player as well.

NHL WAR data courtesy of DTMAboutHeart. Note: The above GAR is an aggregated statistic, so it will fluctuate with ice time.

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Often thought as a pugilist, Thorburn was a fairly strong defensive player at his peak in the NHL. While he struggled offensively, which his role likely played a part in his results, he was able to prevent the opposition from generating chances relative to expectations.

Eventually things shifted. Eventually the cons outweighed the pros. Then there were his impact through penalties, although that was in part forced upon him with his role. But, it was not always the case.

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So, this may very well be the final game we ever see Chris Thorburn play. I will say farewell to him. I have a all the respect in the world for Thorburn.

Chris Thorburn probably shouldn’t have been given a three year contract in the summer of 2014. Chris Thorburn probably should not have played as often as he did over the past three years.

The responsibility of that though falls fully and solely on the coaches and management. None of it resides on Thorburn. He’s done an amazing job and is an exemplary player on how someone can make a 700+ game career with hard work and determination. He has accomplished what only a relatively elite few in the world’s population has done.

I wish him all the luck in his future.

  • ktecACadaptor

    Get him on the Moose. Would say 2 way contract but am worried management couldn’t resist bringing him up for games.
    Very good article and nice to see that he wasn’t always a below replacement level player.