Please, hockey gods, let Joe Thornton score four goals tonight

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The star center's celebration of scoring four goals would be, um, different than teammate Tomas Hertl's.

Sharks captain Joe Thornton is one of only three players in NHL history, alongside Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, to record consecutive 90-assist seasons. He's a former scoring leader and MVP and will likely find himself in the Hall Of Fame once his career is over. One thing he hasn't done, however, is score four goals in a game like his 19-year-old teammate Tomas Hertl accomplished on Tuesday night. Given his planned celebration, this is a national tragedy. From Jason Botchford of The Province:

Hearing a question to Marleau about Hertl and whether he was showboating, Thornton said: "Shut up, have you ever played the game?" When the press turned his way, he then added: "I’d have my cock out if I scored four goals. I’d have my cock out, stroking it."

And that's why Thornton is the captain of an NHL team and we aren't. I can't think of any better way to respond to the ridiculous and, unfortunately, all-too-predictable outcry in the wake of Hertl's incredible fourth goal than Thornton's comments. Well, maybe if he had pulled out little Jumbo right there in the press scrum as a visual aid to parallel the self-righteous wankfest criticizing Hertl's move.

In case you missed it, Capitals coach and resident grouch Adam Oates whined earlier today that Hertl's between-the-legs goal "disrespected the league" while totally-respectable-and-not-at-all-a-laughingstock Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox went on an anti-Hertl Twitter screed. Yes, it isn't the fact that the league sanctions dudes punching each other in the head that makes a mockery of the sport. And it isn't the NHL's repeated tactic of losing months of their season at a time to greed-induced lockouts that sullies the reputation of the game. It's a talented, exuberant teenager displaying dazzling skill that's killing hockey. Sensible commentary from the Defenders Of The Game as usual.

Thornton's response to all this is pitch-perfect and, to the extent that a "C" on a sweater means anything anymore, exactly what a captain should do in coming to the defense of his teenage linemate. The only downside is this:

So you're saying there's a chance. At this point, what I really want to know is how other Sharks would react to scoring four goals. Given what we know about his browser history, I assume Logan Couture's isn't far off from Thornton's. I'd like to imagine Patrick Marleau would celebrate by making himself a warm glass of chocolate milk.

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