In another classic case of the pot meeting the kettle, Joe Thornton had some choice words for the New York Rangers following the Blueshirts’ 5-2 home win over San Jose Monday night. Instead of complaining about the Rangers’ physical style or seemingly endless waves of annoying players to play against, Thornton instead tilted his head back and delivered what can surely only be a subliminal message for the mirror.
Big Joe was quoted as saying, “They were probably the softest team we played on the trip. We should have had those two points.”
I checked the newspaper to make sure I hadn’t slipped into a multi-year coma. Nope. It’s November 1, 2011. With the date settled, I questioned my own sanity. Had I concocted a bizarro world in which Joe Thornton was known only to me to be a playoff choke artist and big softie? I quickly consulted the internet to make sure I hadn’t swapped out Joe’s career with Mark Messier’s by mistake. Nope. He’s still Joe Thornton; the same Joe Thornton that captains a team that is perennially picked by many to win the Stanley Cup, despite never having come close to winning even the west.
The idea of Joe Thornton calling another team soft is one that is such a reversal that it should have been the punchline of a bad network TV joke. I can see it now, track laughter and all.
Joe Thornton’s lack of mental toughness was confirmed through his T-shirt.
We’ve all seen those instances where the idiot at work actually comes up with a halfway decent idea that leads to praise from the higher ups. The result is a sick measure of validation to all of the idiot’s future ideas, no matter how absurd or grounded in fantasy they may be.
I feel like the last couple of playoff years were the decent idea for Joe Thornton. His Sharks beat the Red Wings in the playoffs in both years, and many people, including myself, were hailing his newfound playoff grit and toughness. And now it would seem that a couple of conference semifinal victories in consecutive springs is now enough to anoint Thornton a professor of snarl. Never mind the fact that everybody in their right mind sees the absurdity in his mislabeling of the Rangers — the sickest thing is that he believes it. The next thing you know, Big Joe will be rolling into Chicago calling Brent Seabrook a female reproductive organ, and the transformation into total delusion will be complete. We’ll have a regular Dwight Schrute in our league. And just like on The Office, it may be roaring for the onlookers, but is probably just a series of eye rolls for those on the ground level.
The Assistant (to the) Regional Manager… or the Captain of the SJ Sharks?
One of those ground level employees who was not amused was Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella, who summed up the obvious response by essentially saying that if he worked hard and stayed clean, Thornton may have a chance to one day be regarded as one of the Colin Montgomeries of hockey. Check out Torts’ response:
“Joe’s a heck of a player, but here’s a player popping off about our team, and Joe hasn’t won a God damn thing in this league. He could go down as a player, being one of the better players in our league never to win anything. So what he should do is just shut up. It was uncalled for, it was classless, and I’ve never had it happen like that before.”
Well stated, John. As a supporter of the Red Wings, I’ve taken note of Thornton’s new early-round playoff success and calm storm that he’s brought the past two springs. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that in two career conference finals, Thornton’s Sharks have won exactly one hockey game in nine tries. Not exactly on the cusp if you ask me. Not exactly an achievement that seems worthy of a graduation from the school of sissies, especially when we remember that those teams were highly touted coming in.
And with ill-advised, inaccurate statements like the one last night about the Rangers, Joe Thornton is almost ready to have his application reviewed by the school of punks. I know he was really just trying to project his own perceived deficiencies onto others, but at least win one Clarence S. Campbell Bowl before you run your mouth about who works hard and who doesn’t.