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.