SAN JOSE -- Newly shaved Joe Thornton said he had second thoughts.
“I regretted [shaving] as soon as it started hitting the floor,” Thornton told reporters Tuesday at the Sharks' practice facility. “Hopefully it’ll grow back quickly.”
It was the Sharks center’s first practice without his famous “lifestyle beard,” which he’d been growing since the 2015-16 season. Thornton, who still had some stubble Tuesday, said his wife has wanted the beard gone for “a long time,” and his teammates said there were rumors he’d finally shave.
With the team assembled at Sharks defenseman Brent Burns’ house Monday night -- “having some fellowship,” in Thornton’s words -- things escalated quickly.
“[All] of a sudden, the razor came out, and there it was on the plate,” Thornton said.
Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, who tweeted a photo of the plate, said that he wasn't sure what happened with Thornton’s beard clippings. Pavelski has played on a line with Thornton before, during and now after the beard, and said his longtime teammate needs to “get some sun” where the beard once was.
Third-year pro Timo Meier skated on their wing again at practice Tuesday, and he has only played alongside a bearded Thornton the last two seasons. Meier, who was 8 months old when the Boston Bruins drafted Thornton No. 1 overall in the 1997 draft, joked that he felt like he fits in better with his teammate who’s 17-and-a-half years his senior.
“He looks a lot younger. I feel more comfortable playing with him,” Meier said with a grin. “He doesn’t look like my dad anymore.”
Like Meier, fourth-year Sharks coach Peter DeBoer only has seen Thornton with a beard. Although he was initially “a little shocked,” DeBoer agreed the 39-year-old looked younger. He thought it could give Thornton something of a fresh start, as he returns from his second significant knee injury in two seasons.
While DeBoer thought that Thornton “[looked] great,” he didn’t expect the 20-year veteran’s children to agree.
“I’m sure he woke up and scared the hell out of his kids when they saw that,” DeBoer jokingly said.
Thornton, who spoke with reporters before DeBoer, basically confirmed as much.
“My 5-year-old wasn’t happy this morning when he woke up," he said. "He didn’t want to see dad, so I’ve got to make it up to him.”