These people, for the most part, couldn't tell you three specific things about Thornton's game...and many conveniently forgot that he certainly had some serious flaws. I'll be the first to admit that he's an excellent passer, that he's nearly impossible to move from the back of the net, that he has a tremendous power-play pedigree. I will also remind you that he doesn't shoot the puck, that he takes dumb penalties and that his game is remarkably easy to shadow with an aggressive checking line in a playoff series. I also know this: that this was the Bruins' Scott Kazmir moment...but less destructive.
Hardcore Mets fans are convinced, for better or worse, that the Kazmir trade was necessary. It woke up the Wilpons from a string of terrible decisions and opened their eyes. They brought in Omar Minaya and expected better baseball decisions...and they were rewarded with countless smart, aggressive baseball decisions ever since. They are now in a position to have extended success for the foreseeable future. All because they botched a trade so bad that it made everyone's head spin.
The Bruins situation is eerily similar, albeit not quite as bad for two reasons: 1) Sturm, Stuart and Primeau are actually servicable hockey players and b) most importantly (I've been harping on this since the trade actually happened), there is a hard cap in the NHL. The Thornton trade, like the Kazmir trade, woke up the Jacobs family, finally forced Harry Sinden and his Brigade out of the front office and brought in a regime, through Peter Chiarelli, that is setting out to make calculated, aggressive hockey decisions. Sounds obvious, but I'm conviced Mike O'Connell ran his team by searching Google for online forums like "We Love Enforcers Who Can't Skate Well", "The Draft Isn't That Important" and "If NHL '94 Doesn't Need More Than One Scoring Line, Than Neither Do We".