Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks Pay Tribute to Gord Downie

Joe Thornton, superstar centerman for the San Jose Sharks–and a good Canadian boy from St. Thomas, Ontario–has, like many of his countrymen, a soft spot for the Tragically Hip. Tragically (sorry), the band doesn’t have much of a following in the Bay Area of California, but that’s slowly starting to change thanks to Joe. This is from The Mercury News of San Jose.

Joe Thornton isn’t the type of superstar athlete who gets spotted at red carpet events popping champagne with mega-celebrities like Kanye West.

But Thornton’s status as one of the top hockey players of his generation did give him an opportunity to forge a relationship with the rock idol of his youth, a Canadian hero whom the Sharks are paying tribute to at every home game this season.

When the Sharks (25-15- 2) rush out onto the ice for pregame warmups prior to their Western Conference finals rematch with the St. Louis Blues (21-16- 5) at the SAP Center on Saturday, they’ll be skating to a pair of songs by Canadian rock legends, the Tragically Hip, as an homage to the iconic band’s frontman, Gord Downie, who’s battling glioblastoma, a rare form of terminal brain cancer.
Thornton said the tribute is the Sharks way of celebrating the relationship between the Hip’s music and hockey.

“I just love it because I still listen to the Hip all the time,” Thornton said. “I have a huge smile on my face and I’m ready to go for the rest of the night.”

The Tragically Hip sent shock waves across Canada last spring when they announced that Downie, 52, was suffering from terminal cancer and the band would be calling it quits after one last cross-country tour.

The news also jolted the Sharks locker room, where the Hip’s music is still played on a near-daily basis, the soundtrack of the Canadian players’ youths.

“When I hear them, it puts you back to those moments when you’re a kid in the basement shooting 1,000 pucks a day with the boombox going,” defenseman Brent Burns said.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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