Sharks' Thornton gets game misconduct for spearing vs Blues

Sharks' Thornton gets game misconduct for spearing vs Blues

SAN JOSE – Joe Thornton’s night ended a bit prematurely against St. Louis on Saturday in a 4-0 Sharks loss.

The top line center was issued a five-minute major and game misconduct for spearing the Blues’ Paul Stastny at 11:09 of the second period. The two players came together near center ice, when Thornton jammed the blade of his stick into Stastny’s midsection.

It was the ninth time Thornton has received a game misconduct in his career, and first since Nov. 4, 2010. That was also against the Blues, when he hit David Perron during a game in St. Louis, resulting in a concussion for the St. Louis forward and a two-game suspension for Thornton.

Stastny gave his take on the play after the game.

"I've battled against him a few times, and sometimes guys get angry if you get in their way or give them a crosscheck,” he said. “But, it's an obvious call. It's a dangerous play.”

It was unclear what Stastny did to provoke Thornton, who wasn’t available to talk to reporters after the game. Stastny said he didn’t do anything that he “wouldn't normally do to anyone."

Was he surprised at Thornton’s reaction?

“You're surprised when anyone does it. Part of the game sometimes. It happens. Emotions get high. Just happy that we won. Take him out of the game, and it makes that team a little less dangerous than they are normally.”

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said he hadn’t seen a replay of what happened immediately after the game.

Logan Couture didn’t seem to have a problem with it being a penalty, although he indicated that perhaps it wasn’t worthy of a major.

“If it’s going to be a five, I think he could have hit him a lot harder,” Couture said. “I don’t think it was worthy of a five-minute, but they’re trying to protect players. Any time there’s a spear, I agree with the call.”

“I think the refs called a good game. They let some stuff go and they called the penalties that needed to be called.”

Logan Couture returns to Sharks practice after collision with teammate


Logan Couture returns to Sharks practice after collision with teammate

Sharks fans can breathe a sigh of relief, because Logan Couture returned to practice Wednesday morning.

Couture was sidelined at the end of Tuesday morning's practice after he collided with rookie center Rourke Chartier during three-on-three drills. DeBoer didn't immediately have an update on the center's status following Tuesday's practice, but indicated Wednesday that everything was okay.

No. 39 has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) through six games so far this season, all of which were logged during the Sharks' five-game road trip. He made the early-season highlight reel when he set up Kevin Labanc for the game-winning overtime goal against the LA Kings on Friday, October 5.

San Jose was hit with early season injury woes after top line staple Joe Thornton was sidelined after the second game of the regular season due to an infection in his surgically repaired knee. The 39-year-old forward rejoined the team on Tuesday after missing the tail end of the team's road trip.

He has participated in both practices since the Sharks have returned to San Jose, although there isn't clear when he'll next suit up for a game.

Sharks notes: Joe Thornton applauds team for 'playing great' in his absence

San Jose Sharks

Sharks notes: Joe Thornton applauds team for 'playing great' in his absence

SAN JOSE -- Sharks center Joe Thornton had a fan’s view of the team’s last four games, and he said he liked what he saw.

“I think they’re playing great,” Thornton said Tuesday after his first practice since going on injured reserve Oct. 7. “I think the record could be 5-1, 4-2. We looked solid, [five-on-five] play looked really solid.

“But I really, really like our five-on-five play. It felt like what I was watching we were dictating most of the games.”

Thornton experienced swelling in his surgically repaired right knee the day after San Jose’s 3-2 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings. In the next four games, the Sharks largely controlled play at even strength, attempting 58.92 percent of the five-on-five shots and out-chancing opponents 102-76, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Yet, the Sharks finished the Thornton-less portion of the trip 1-2-1, falling to 2-3-1 overall. That’s, at least in part, because San Jose scored on just 6.56 percent of its five-on-five shots, and 7.27 percent overall.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said the team wants to clean up some details but also must be prepared to just ride out this stretch. 

“I think there are some things you can do to help yourself,” DeBoer said. “Some net-front traffic, and some more commitment to bearing down. But I also think you’ve got to be careful, too, and some of it is just sticking with it. There are stretches where it just doesn’t go [in].”

Risk-y Business

So, how did Thornton spend his week away from the team?

“Watched the games, played some Risk on my computer, go to hockey games with my kid,” Thornton said. “There’s always stuff to be busy with.”

Yes, Thornton -- along with a surprising number of NHL players, as Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt documented in a great story last year -- is an avid player of the Hasbro classic.

He grew up playing with his older brothers during his childhood summers, and has gotten some of his current and former teammates hooked: HC Davos roommate Rick Nash and former Sharks center Chris Tierney were among the converts mentioned in Prewitt’s story.

Gambrell earns 'a look here soon'

The Sharks did not practice Monday, so rookie center Dylan Gambrell spent the night in an AHL game, suiting up for the San Jose Barracuda. Gambrell scored or assisted on both of San Jose’s regulation goals, all with DeBoer in attendance.

The 22-year-old was one of the last cuts of training camp, and he traveled with the team after Thornton was placed on injured reserve. Gambrell has not played for the Sharks yet this season, but he now has five points in two AHL games. 

“He’s gone down and handled the demotion the right way by being the best player on the ice most nights he’s down there,” DeBoer said. “He’s gonna get a look here soon, and hopefully he takes it and runs with it.”

Gambrell played on the wing at Tuesday’s practice, skating with Timo Meier and Logan Couture while Tomas Hertl sat for a maintenance day. Gambrell played on the wing in the preseason, too, and DeBoer said that can only help his cause. 

“If you’re a centerman, you want to be able to knock on the coach’s door and say, ‘Hey, listen, I can also play wing until you need [one],' ” DeBoer said. “He’s got that versatility to his game because of his speed, so I think the more positions he can play, the more opportunities he’s going to get.” 

Fine Lines

While Kevin Labanc also sat for a maintenance day, Thornton returned to the top line alongside Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane. Other than him and Gambrell, there were no other changes to the line combinations and defense pairs from the end of the road trip, and they shook out as follows:

Evander Kane - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Timo Meier - Logan Couture - Dylan Gambrell
Marcus Sorensen - Antti Suomela - Joonas Donskoi
Barclay Goodrow - Rourke Chartier - Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Erik Karlsson
Joakim Ryan - Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon - Justin Braun
Radim Simek - Tim Heed

Second-line center Logan Couture collided with Rourke Chartier in a drill Tuesday, and appeared to be holding his wrist afterward. DeBoer did not have an update immediately after practice.

If Couture doesn’t skate Wednesday, the Sharks could ice much different lines in his absence.