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Joe Thornton’s suspension appeal shot down; crazy talk fills the air to support him

Nov 6, 2010, 9:42 PM EDT

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Suspended Sharks forward Joe Thornton, who received a two-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of Blues forward David Perron, filed an appeal with the NHL to try and overturn his suspension. As ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun found out, Thornton’s appeal was denied by the NHL and Thornton’s agent, John Thornton, had some choice words for the league about it.

John Thornton, Joe’s brother and agent, issued a scathing statement afterward: “The league once again failed to follow any precedent they have set when making disciplinary decisions. They stated this was most similar to the [Nick] Foligno hit [earlier this season]. which only resulted in a $2,500 fine.

“When Joe asked the league, directly, what he could have done differently, they could not clearly explain. I guess being 5’9″ was Joe’s only solution to avoid this suspension. We are extremely disappointed with the league’s decision and feel the continuing uncertainty with league actions will only hurt the fans of the NHL.”

The league, when told of John Thornton’s comments, declined to comment.

John Thornton’s comments are a bit out of hand, all things considered. After all, we’ve seen Chris Pronger use the height differential excuse for when he’s been busted for elbowing players in the head.  In this situation, Thornton’s height has nothing at all to do with him flying out of the penalty box and cranking an unsuspecting player in the head.  Thornton doesn’t have a history of doing these kinds of things, but in this case he’s in the wrong.

If you’re wondering about how Perron is doing after the fact, especially considering he stayed in the game and scored a goal against the Sharks, he missed tonight’s game with Boston because he was having headaches. Some fans and media, like Sharks broadcaster Jamie Baker, thought that Perron was embellishing the hit to help get Thornton punished.

That line of thinking is so completely ludicrous it’s stunning to think that a team would have a player do that in order to ensure an opposing player gets spanked by the league. Head injuries don’t always appear immediately and they should be taken seriously. In Jamie Baker’s case, as a former player himself, he should certainly know better.

  1. sanjosecupcrazy - Nov 7, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    You’re the only person I’ve found that thinks Thornton should have been ejected, let alone suspended. This is the biggest pile of horsecrap to come out of an NHL decision in quite some time…. and that’s not homer talk — that’s the consensus of the national media. Your argument here is devoid of thought.

  2. scottlacy - Nov 7, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    Make that two people, SJCupCrazy. The Thornton hit is precisely the kind of hit the NHL wants driven out of the game. Is the NHL wheel of discipline bizarre and inconsistent? Absolutely. But only a fan of the Sharks could watch that hit and deny it’s a textbook example of “a lateral, back-pressure or blind-side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact.”

    Sorry to say, the only argument devoid of thought is yours. To hide behind the “consensus of the media” is squirrelly and lame. If the media consensus were just the opposite, would you be touting it here? I doubt it. You’d probably be venting that the national media is also “devoid of thought.”

  3. nyrftw - Nov 7, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    I think the hit was fine and the NHL over-reacted. This isn’t the NBA! The player needs to keep his head up, yeah Thornton just got out of the box, but there is no excuse Perron not keeping his head up. I am a Rangers fan, so obviously I am not being a homer. I have just played hockey my whole life and can’t see any other league calling that a penalty other than in the NHL. They are trying to make it into the NBA and if they keep it up girls will be playing in the league in the next 5 years lol and no one will ever watch the sport again. The beauty of the NHL is that it takes skill and gritt and if you take the gritt out you are left with a glorified mens league that no one would want to watch. The hit was clean period and concussions are part of the game they always have been and always will be. Imagine how many concussions Gordie had in his career!!! Please way to many to count. Don’t like it watch the NBA!

  4. sanjosecupcrazy - Nov 7, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    ScottLacy, did your parents have you in ballet class instead of playing sports as a kid? You and a couple of rogue media types are the only ones I’ve heard that felt the hit warrented an ejection, let alone a suspension. My guess is that you’re either a disgruntled Boston Bruins fan, or a fan of the Ducks. Either way, you’re in the minority, my friend. Pretty obvious that most of the hockey world sees your side of the argument as “devoid of thought.”

  5. scottlacy - Nov 7, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Too bad you can’t make a point without resorting to personal attacks.

    I refer, again, to the rule above. It is what it is. I did not write the rule. I merely cite it here for your edification.

  6. scottlacy - Nov 7, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    And citing Gordie Howe is a clever but misguided argument. The older players, almost to a man, will tell you that back in the ’50s the players had greater respect for one another. It was a rough game, people got hurt, but you didn’t see the same number of opportunistic hits on defenseless players.

    The “keep your head” up argument is tired. The guy was receiving a pass from the exact opposite direction that Thornton hit him from. He didn’t have his head down so much as he had it pointed the opposite way. The players need to respect one another in situations like that. Thornton can easily separate Perron from the puck without hitting him in the head.

    And that’s the essence of the argument: when is a head shot the responsibility of the hitter, and when is it the responsibility of the hittee? In this scenario, the league has been very specific: it’s the responsibility of Thornton not to contact Perron’s head. It’s really that simple. Just read the rule.

    If Perron is moving up ice with his head down and Thornton lays him out straight on, head shot or no, then good on Thornton and too bad for Perron. But that’s not what happened here.

    For the record, I love the raw physicality of hockey. It’s the mixture of violence and skill that make it the greatest sport on earth. Let’s see if we can move beyond the “girls playing hockey” and “ballet class” grade school taunts, eh?

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