Joe Thornton was born in Ontario, Canada. He spent most of his youth playing hockey in his hometown of St. Thomas. At the age of 15, Thornton was drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Soo Greyhounds), a junior ice hockey team, in the 1995 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Draft. Despite having a short amateur career in Canada with the Soo Greyhounds, he finished with 198 points, 127 assists, and 71 goals, which earned him a Rookie of the Year and OHL Second All-Star Team honors. After his second season with the Soo Greyhounds, Thornton was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins.