'Everyone is excited': Lynhurst 'pumped' that Thornton has signed with Toronto
LYNHURST, ONT. -- The small community of Lynhurst, Ont., just outside of St. Thomas, is the home of future NHL Hall of Famer Joe Thornton.
A few days after 'Jumbo Joe' announced he was signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the buzz in the air is still palpable.
Especially for those who live on Crescent Avenue. "It's very exciting for everyone on the street that knows the Thornton's and Joe personally," says Mike Vecchio, husband of Elgin-Middlesex-London MP Karen Vecchio, and a next-door neighbour of Thornton's parents Wayne and Mary.
In his media briefing Sunday, Thornton mentioned that after 15 years on the West Coast, it will be nice to be closer to home. "My parents are there (Lynhurst), about an hour and forty minutes away," said Thornton via Facetime from Davos Switzerland.
"That was part of it; they can be around their grandkids a lot. The decision was a little bit family, but mostly hockey actually."
Statue of Jumbo in St. Thomas
For the past 15 years many residents of Lynhurst have dropped their previous hockey allegiances and converted to the Sharks' teal and white.
"My wife is already online getting Leafs, Joe Thornton hockey shirts," says Hugh McCoubrey who lives across the street from Thornton's parents.
His garage is often a hub of activity when the Sharks are playing in the post-season. "It's always been tough with San Jose because the games aren't until 10 p.m.," says McCoubrey.
"It'll be good now and it'll be good for St. Thomas people who have fell in love with Joe over the years."
Down the road, Nascar driver DJ Kennington is a massive Leafs fan, and a long-time friend of Thornton's dating back to elementary school.
"I asked him last week if he was coming (to Toronto) and he said he really didn't know," says Kennington, wearing a Leafs jersey for the interview.
"The announcement came out and he texted me about five minutes after that to say he's excited. My son is a huge Leaf fan and absolutely adores him. It's so great for the community."
At Lynhurst Variety, Chad Ghattas isn't a Leafs supporter. In fact he was kind of hoping Joe would sign with Edmonton. Although he won't be wearing the #97 jersey with Thornton's name on it, he is a big fan of his character.
"When I had a heart condition two-and-a-half years ago, he was one of the first people to reach out to me via text, and asked 'How you doing,'" says Ghattas, the store's owner.
"He's a great ambassador and role model and I wish him all the best."
And while Joe felt it was time for a change, the sign bearing his name also needs a makeover.
"I've already mentioned to my wife that the sign that says 'Home of Joe Thornton' will have to get some new colours," says Vecchio. "It still has the old Boston colours but we can add to that now."