Even well established NHL stars aren’t immune from the latest craze sweeping the nation. No, I’m not talking about Justin Bieber, or DJ Hero.
Headshots are all the rage in today’s NHL. Just ask Joe Thornton.
It’d be a stretch to give him a moniker like Gentle Joe, by Thornton isn’t exactly known for his bone-jarring hits. He’s not really known for any dirty play either, so Thornton’s blindside hit (yes, I used the “B” word) on David Perron during San Jose’s game against St. Louis Thursday night was definitely out of character:
Thornton’s hit summoned the infamous headshot rule. He was assessed a five-minute major on the play and ejected for an illegal hit to the head. The collision occurred in the second period when Thornton stepped out of the penalty box, took a couple of strides, and caught Perron off guard. Although he was hurt and down on the ice for several minutes, Perron would return to the game and score his fifth goal of the season in the Blues’ 2-0 win.
From Shane Doan to Dustin Brown and Nick Foligno, there has been a plethora of illegal and questionable hits, and it’s only Nov.5. The debate around Thornton’s run-in with Perron will be a regurgitation of every other headshot debate: Was it really from the blindside? Or was it more of a lateral hit? And was the head the principle point of contact?
We’ve already seen the hit to the head penalty called incorrectly and later rescinded (Kris Letang), so Thornton now waits for the phone to ring as Colin Campbell gives the Wheel of Justice another spin.
Thornton does have a history with NHL discipline, but his small list of crimes started a decade ago, and he hasn’t been suspended since 2002. He has been suspended three times in his career for a total of seven games.