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K’s Legend Thornson has passed

Monday, December 13th
K’s Legend Thornson has passed

Fort Wayne, IN – The Komets' all-time leading scorer Len Thornson has passed away after a lengthy illness. He was 88.

Thornson first arrived in Fort Wayne in 1957. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native would star for the Komets for 12 consecutive seasons where he would amass 412 goals, good for second-most in team history, and franchise records of 807 assists and 1,219 points. Thornson would collect seven International Hockey League Most Valuable Player awards, would lead the league in scoring three times, and would lead the Komets to two Turner Cup Championships in 1963 and 1965. 

“Len Thornson was a complete gentleman off the ice, and no one in the history of Komet hockey was better than Lenny on the ice,” said Komets President Michael Franke. “As kids, Lenny and his family lived up the street from us, we thought that was the coolest thing ever. He was a great ambassador of Komet hockey after his playing days and had a tremendous post-hockey career in the insurance business. Number 11 will always be remembered when we walk in the Coliseum at look up to the rafters and see that banner.”

During the 1966-67 season, Thornson set a franchise/league record with 139 points (46g, 93a, 71gp).  He would eclipse the 100 point mark seven times in his Komet career.  Other records held or shared include; most assists in-game (6), most consecutive games without a penalty (69), longest two point-scoring streak (14 games), most career playoff goals (53), most goals in a playoff game (4), most career playoff assists (74), most career playoff points (127).

“Lenny Thornson was the Wayne Gretzky of the IHL,” said Komet General Manager David Franke.  “I was fortunate enough to watch Lenny play the last half of his career and he was the measuring stick for all players who came later.  He made other players better, that’s what star players do.  His accomplishments on the ice are legendary.  Off the ice, Lenny made Fort Wayne his home.  He was a successful businessman and a true ambassador to hockey and especially Fort Wayne Komet hockey.  I have known Len my whole life. When we bought the Komets in 1990 he was one of our biggest supporters.  What a great Komet and a great person.”

Four times an IHL first-team all-star he played in 763 regular-season games and in his final season (’68-’69) served as player/head coach. 

“Len Thornson was my favorite from a production standpoint because he was elegant, a wonderful ambassador of hockey, highly skilled, and a wonderful citizen of Fort Wayne,” said fellow Komet Hall of Famer Mike “Doc” Emrick.  “I am so pleased to have cheered for Len Thornson during his career and to know him when his career had ended.”

In 1997, the Hockey News named Thornson the IHL’s Greatest Player of All-time.  He was inducted in the Komet Hall of Fame and his number 11 retired in 1987.

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