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Sharks GM Doug Wilson sounds off about Joe Thornton’s suspension

Nov 5, 2010, 6:47 PM EDT

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With the rather stunning news about Sharks captain Joe Thornton being suspended for two games for his hit on David Perron, word got around quickly about how the Sharks were furious about the decision on the play. Sharks GM Doug Wilson spoke out today about the hit and you can tell right away that frustration, more than anything, is what the main issue is right now.

“We strongly disagree with the two-game suspension handed down by the NHL today to Joe Thornton,” Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson. “What is most distressing is that we feel the suspension is not consistent to the recent reviews by the League following similar collisions resulting in players leaving the penalty box and establishing their place on the ice, including Willie Mitchell on Jonathan Toews.

“In Joe’s case, it was clearly not a predatory-type hit with an intent to injure, shown by the fact that the player returned to the ice for his next shift so it is clear that the contact to the head was minimal. We put a lot of time and effort into helping define the NHL’s new rule on headshots but we feel strongly that this suspension is not a reflection of the rule’s true intent.”

Wilson’s got a point here and, at the moment, it feels like the league’s new Rule 48 regarding headshots and blindside hits, rather than making everything black and white is turning everything into one, big gray area. Wilson’s frustration in not being completely clear on what will and will not be a suspendable offense is evident. We’ve already seen a host of hits that qualified under Rule 48 and they have been handled in various ways from fines to outright suspensions to absolutely nothing at all. It’s important for the NHL to get things right here so everyone knows where they stand on these matters. Bringing back the Wheel of Justice means of figuring out what to do does no one any favors.

  1. bird500 - Nov 6, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    I watched the hit. It was an extremely dangerous hit, and Perron never even had the puck when he was blindsided. Generally, if a player has the puck, he will be expecting an opponent to be all over him to try to get the puck, but a player just skating down ice is a sitting duck, especially for a player just coming on the ice. Thornton should know better, he is not a rookie. Why did he even hit Perron if the play was down ice already? If I was the ref I would have given 2 mins for interference and more for intent to injure which this sure seemed like to me.

    He could easily have gotten 3 games, and he easily could have done some serious damage to Perron. So YES, he got what he deserved. If he had a grudge just drop the gloves like a man but don’t go Bertuzzi on him.

  2. bird500 - Nov 6, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    Forgot to include this in my first post”

    Wilson: “In Joe’s case, it was clearly not a predatory-type hit with an intent to injure, shown by the fact that the player returned to the ice for his next shift so it is clear that the contact to the head was minimal.”

    Just because Perron was lucky enough to escape injury, that does not make the hit acceptable.

  3. yakasha1 - Nov 6, 2010 at 2:21 PM

    bird500: Watch the video again in slow motion. Then you’ll see what Wilson is upset with.

    1) At the time of contact, Perron’s skates were directly facing Thornton. I.e. Thornton was directly in front of him. Directly in front of somebody is not blind-side. Otherwise everybody will just skate around looking at the ice so any hit at all is “blind side”.
    2) The play was not down ice. The puck went between Perron’s stick and his skate less than 1 second before the hit. I’m not entirely certain, but it looks to me like the puck changed directions. This means it either hit Perron’s stick or skate. Whether it hit him or not though, the pass was clearly to Perron, and therefore the timing of the hit was legal.
    3) Perron KNEW a hit at that point was very likely as he too, is not a rookie. Jamie Baker said in his blog that a pass up the middle, exactly like the pass made to Perron, is known in hockey as a “suicide pass”. Why? Because that pass just sets up the receiver to get demolished. Perron should have looked.
    4) Joe is 6’4″, Perron is 6’0″ and had his head down and to the right. Any head contact made is clearly unintentional. Unless you want to claim Joe purposefully grew 4″ taller than Perron.

    Though I totally agree with you that Wilson’s logic is flawed. Extent of injury does not denote intent.

    “You shot him in the face!” “But he lived, so its ok!”

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