Sharks' Scott Thornton has cousin Joe along for the ride

RYAN PYETTE, FREE PRESS SPORTS REPORTER

, Last Updated: 2:02 PM ET

Now cousins Joe and Scott Thornton are playing together in San Jose, they'll have to find common interests off the frozen pond.

Joe might want to get some bicycle shorts.

While the St. Thomas native was skiing the Swiss Alps with Rick Nash during the hockey lockout, cousin Scott rode in monthly cycling challenges leading to The Death Ride, a 206-kilometre bike trip that features 4,877 metres over five mountain passes near Lake Tahoe in Nevada.

Each year, about 3,000 riders start, but only about 20 per cent of them finish.

Thornton was among that minority, completing the course in nine hours.

"It's called the Death Ride for a reason," he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"You have to play tricks with yourself to get motivated. It was another carrot to dangle in front of myself."

The offseason training led to Scott Thornton, at 34 the Sharks' oldest player this season, to start the season in animal condition.

"He's a freak," San Jose head coach Ron Wilson said. "Totally off the charts."

The six-foot-three, 225-pounder fell in love with the pedal set about six years ago after watching Lance Armstrong win a Tour de France. Fittingly, Tuesday's San Jose-Atlanta game aired on Outdoor Life Network, the channel with the latest news on pastimes such as cycling, hiking and cliffhanging.

Since Joe hit San Jose, the Sharks have won all three games they've played, but Scott is still spinning his wheels offensively. He has just one assist in those three games to Joe's six points and Jonathan Cheechoo's three goals.

Still, he knows the production will come as long as he's on Joe's line.

"I obviously know him," Scott told the Washington Post after the trade. "He's one of the top 10 players in the league. He's a big, powerful forward. I expect him to be a giant on special teams."

Perry the Pirate

Former London Knight Corey Perry is in that frustrating place right now where he's clearly too good to be in the American Hockey League, but deemed by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to be not yet ready to contribute consistently in the NHL.

Just a few weeks removed from his demotion to the Portland Pirates, Perry hasn't exactly walked the plank and gone into the tank. He was just named the AHL player of the week with three goals and six points in that span and six goals and 13 points in seven games.

He had a goal and six points in 15 games with Anaheim, who couldn't have established their farm team any farther away from the parent club. While the Toronto Maple Leafs house the Marlies practically down the street from the Air Canada Centre, the Ducks ship their prospects all the way to Maine on the other side of the continental United States.

Shanny's impressed

Brendan Shanahan is, like almost everyone else, a fan of how Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby has played this season. Of course, the 36-year-old wouldn't hesitate to hammer the youngster if he got in his way.

"You watch Crosby and you're amazed at how well he's doing for such a young player, but when you play against him, he's just a guy in the other sweater," said the ex-London Knight, who has 17 goals this season. "You're trying to beat him."

By the way, the high-flying Wings are 6-1 in games that Londoner Jason Williams has scored at least one goal. The 25-year-old is on a seven-game point streak.

In the sticks

Florida prospect and ex-Knight Drew Larman, long a superb checking forward, has become a scoring machine in Rochester. He has picked up 11 points in 10 games with the Amerks and was up for AHL player of the week honours won by Perry.


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