The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has been busy in this young postseason. Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov was handed a one-game suspension for boarding, Toronto’s Nazem Kadri is probably going to get something like five games for this, and now it’s Joe Thornton’s turn for a hearing.
Thornton was given a minor penalty for this hit to the head of Tomas Nosek in Sunday’s Golden Knight’s win over San Jose.
Thornton didn’t see what the big deal was:
“I honestly thought I barely touched him,” Thornton said Sunday. “He just came right back; it was just one of those plays that it is what it is. I think my son hits me like that six times a day, it’s just a weird position to put himself in. That’s all.”
(The hit occurred with about three minutes left in the second period. Nosek returned to the ice a minute into the third.)
If I had to guess, I’d peg a suspension at one game. It was a needless hit, but Thornton doesn’t have much of a disciplinary history over his long, long NHL career, with just one previous suspension. One additional mark on his limited record was a fine this March, handed out to both players after Thornton’s scrap with Vegas’s Ryan Reaves. So naturally, Reaves had something to say about Thornton potentially having to watch Game 4 from upstairs.
That’s very good, and very mean.