Overlooked and Underrated: Chris Thorburn

What is more significant in the working world: a job that pays well or one that simply makes you happy? Usually, it’s the second option that is preferred albeit a tough choice. Propitiously for Chris Thorburn, he never had to make that decision.

Playing for the Atlanta Thrashers, he’s doing what he loves and happens to earn substantial dollars in addition. You can’t help but get the feeling that he would be enjoying it similarly were it offering less money.

Despite not always receiving the most minutes, Thorburn cherishes every second he’s on the ice and tirelessly fights to earn it. Whether it be at center, right wing, on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk or Marty Reasoner, the 26-year-old gives his all for the team.

Size and power are his better accommodations which allow him to perform as a checker. If someone has the nerve to target one of the better Thrasher forwards, Thorburn will gladly step in and throw a few punches.

He even has a bout with Zdeno Chara on his resume from early December; sufficient enough to silence any pundits. Together, he and teammate Eric Boulton appeared in 28 of Atlanta’s 53 scuffles in the midst of this season.

His skating and hands are what have made his road into the league a difficult one. Once they catch up with his physical game, Atlanta will really have a prized asset on their roster.

Of course, we don’t know if and when that will take place. Alexandre Burrows’ hands were often compared to stones for quite a time span. Vancouver’s agitator had scored a combined 22 goals in three seasons prior to exploding for 28 this year.

Always an excellent skater, Burrows’ growth came more naturally because of his speed already being present. Thorburn must get a better grip on the foot aspect to start. From there, he may be able to carry that improvement on to his shooting and passing.

Scoring seven goals this year (career high) but falling short of the 18 points he amassed last season, an average ice time of less than ten minutes per game must be taken into consideration. All the same, a big question mark lies ahead of his progression heading into the 2009/2010 campaign.

Using Burrows for comparison again, he hadn’t recorded more than seven goals or six assists before the 31 points assembled last year. A legitimate prediction could be double figures in both goals and assists, assuming that Thorburn can get his legs steadier.

Twice he surpassed 50 points in the OHL as a member of the North Bay Centennials and scored 23 goals in his third year with the AHL’s Rochester Americans. While such figures have a strong prospect of being unmatched as an NHL forward, his physicality will remain favored.

I can’t declare that Atlanta’s win column will skyrocket with more goals from Thorburn (seven wins, five defeats in the last two years in games he did register a tally). What I can guarantee is he will endure rigorous efforts for his benefit on and off the ice.

The potential is there, the offered education is there for the taking and most importantly, Thorburn accepts it. Constructive criticism is how he looks at it; any advice or assessment presented to him isn’t ignored.

The Sault Ste. Marie native is coming off two full seasons of activity in Atlanta which indicates that his roster spot appears guaranteed. An immense work-ethic was his ticket into the NHL and it will be what keeps him in the good graces of the coaching staff.

So as Thorburn hits the ice in the future, it’s not the hefty contracts, attention or maximum headlines he is searching for. Performing in itself the job he fully cherishes gives him plenty of satisfaction and that’s the way it should be—for everyone.

1) Ales Hemsky
2) Todd Marchant

7 thoughts on “Overlooked and Underrated: Chris Thorburn”

  1. Thanks for the nice article on Thorburn. The North Bay Centennials became the Saginaw (Mich.) Spirit a few years back, and Thorburn was our first captain. He was inevitably traded for prospects, as the team was pretty bare, but it was not a trade the fans loved, because they loved Chris. All of Thorburn’s good qualities mentioned above made him an early favorite in Saginaw, and he is fondly remembered by many fans, even though his time here was short.

  2. Thanks Brink, this series is meant to shine a light onto some of the less heralded players in the league. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece and there will be many more still to come.

  3. Great article man. I’m a huge hockey fan and didn’t know much about Thorburn. Good piece.

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