Joe Thornton has been attributed as the “most misunderstood player in the NHL” in spite of the fact that he has been one of the league’s most stable and effective players when it comes to overall performance. But the spotlight aimed towards Joonas “Donkey” Donskoi, as he managed to score the first goal against the Kings last Saturday.

“Gravitate is the word – it’s hard not to gravitate to him,” stated San Jose Sharks’ head coach Peter DeBoer when referring to Joe Thornton.

San Jose Sharks’ Thornton and Donksoi led the team victory against the Kings. Credit: NHL

Joe Thornton’s trial of endurance

36-year old Joe Thornton has been proving himself along the last decade, achieving a balance of 69 points out of 79 playoff encounters. He is currently anointed as alternate captain of the team, and analysts suggest that it is not a sudden realization, but constant work that has allowed him to be spotted as a crucial pillar in the Shark’s team structure.

His age is also something to admire, as it is rare to spot a championship-worthy NHL player around 40 years old. Coach DeBoer has worked with Jaromir Jagr, an important NHL player who is currently 44 and who also managed to have the best time of his career after hitting his fourth decade.

The ice donkey

Coming from Finland, Donskoi’s career cannot be another thing than picturesque. He debuted on his native country but was shortly drafted by the Florida Panthers, although he had chosen to stay and gather experience in his home country. He scored a surprising 37 points with 26 assists in his first season with Kärpät‘s hockey team, achieving MVP status.

Eventually, ‘Donkey’ as his teammates now call him, signed with the Sharks under a low profile; at first coach DeBoer did not expect him to make a difference but he shortly proved otherwise. His first NHL goal was made in the latest game against Los Angeles’ Kings.

“For me, as a coach, it’s like a Christmas gift,” stated DeBoer.

The final score displayed a satisfying 6-3, meaning a certain victory for the Sharks as they have picked up their losing streak over the past years. This is the first year with Peter DeBoer on the head of the Sharks, who has set training efforts towards developing the defensive side of the team.

In an effort to reduce mistakes and rushed plays, he encouraged players to keep the passes simple, where the most important piece of the game was to perform precise shots and ensure high scores rather than showing off to the rival team and the audience.

Source: NHL