There’s absolutely no defending Joe Thornton on this one. His spear of Paul Stastny absolutely earned him a game misconduct and may very well earn him a suspension. If you haven’t seen the play yet, you can check it out below. Thornton clearly spears Stastny and any insinuation otherwise is at best laughable.
So let’s prepare for the possibility that the Sharks will go without one of their best players for a few games because of Thornton’s complete absence of discipline. That’s not ideal, but San Jose has options. Let’s start with the top line, since we’re going to need a new first line center. The best option is to have Joe Pavelski slot in as center for a few games and build around him like so:
Patrick Marleau — Joe Pavelski — Timo Meier
That way the Sharks can keep the second line intact like so:
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
If the Sharks get Joonas Donskoi back for Monday’s game against Winnipeg, they can slot him on the third line with Chris Tierney and Joel Ward:
Joonas Donskoi – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
And that leaves the fourth line which can either go the same as it did against the Blues:
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Or with either Danny O’Regan or Ryan Carpenter at center if they call up O’Regan (unlikely) or scratch Wingels in favor of Carpenter (at least possible). This isn’t an ideal situation, obviously, but Thornton’s lack of discipline has put his team in a tough spot and they have to at least figure out a backup plan in case he’s not available on Monday afternoon.