ESPN the Magazine revealed Joe Thornton and Brent Burns’ appearance on the cover of the magazine’s annual “Body Issue,” with the bearded center and defenseman appearing in the buff.
ESPN also published an interview with the Sharks’ bewhiskered best buds, and we’ve pulled some of the highlights. Here are Burns and Thornton on pain:
Do hockey players even feel pain after a while?
[Brent Burns]: This one does! I have the pain gene. People say tattoos on the arm don't hurt. No, I got a sleeve done and that sucked. I'm a wimp. You sit there for five hours and let someone drill on you. It's like someone's using a tiny torch to burn your nerves. Joe doesn't feel pain. I don't understand how he doesn't have a pain threshold, but it's incredible.
[Joe Thornton]: Well, I hate needles and stitches. I'm the biggest wimp when it comes to that stuff. Can't stand it. That little needle is the worst feeling for me. I hate it.
Burns’ description of getting a tattoo is particularly vivid, and I also now sincerely wonder what Thornton was like ahead of his successful knee surgery in April. The pair also gave some insight into the day-to-day challenges the beards present.
What's the biggest problem you run into with those beards?
BB: I've got eggs from last week in this thing. We oil it. We brush it out. But you try to eat one bowl of chili or something that can fall or drip and you're just screwed if it goes in there. Nothing's getting out.
JT: I like peanut butter and jam on toast in the morning, and that's the worst. If peanut butter gets in there, forget it. You got to eat the peanut butter first and then go take a shower. It's a whole lifestyle. The other big problem is milk for me. I like to eat cereal every night, and that can be a problem. I've got a little bit of gray coming down the middle, and I tell people it's because the milk is staining the beard, not my age. What do you call my stripe, Burnsie?
BB: The racing stripe. Your face looks like a 1971 Dodge Charger.
JT: We have a guy who comes to the house and maintains it for us with a cut and a trim every three months or so. You just have to constantly look to make sure there isn't s--- in this kind of beard. Not even just food crumbs, I mean, like, random stuff. Last week I went to get the dog groomed. Simple, right? There was a tree outside the place, and the wind blew and the pollen came down. I go inside and the groomer goes, "Hey, you got something in your beard." I run my hand through it and my buddy goes, "Nope, you still have a ton of s--- in your beard." But I just feel comfortable in a beard.
BB: My dad always had a beard when I was a kid, so I bet that probably has a lot to do with it mentally. I remember him with one, and so I wanted one too.
I can’t say I pegged Thornton as a late-night cereal guy, but as a fellow connoisseur, I feel this does wonders for my own chances of making the NHL.
There’s a lot more hilarious insight from the two within the full interview, ranging from diets to just what “hockey shape” actually refers to. You can read the entire interview here.