The NHL Department of Player Safety has suspended forward Joe Thornton one game for his illegal check to the head of forward Tomas Nosek in the second period of Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round series between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights. Thornton was given a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head at 16:45 of the second period following the hit on Nosek.
Here’s the full video, along with the Department of Player Safety’s explanation:
They explain that 1) the primary point of contact between Thornton and Nosek is Nosek’s head and 2) this contact to the head was avoidable by Thornton. They determined that Thornton did not change his body position enough to indicate that he was attempting to avoid contact to Nosek’s head.
They also cite Thornton’s suspension history, though his last suspension was nine years ago, in November of 2010 — approaching just his fifth anniversary of joining the Sharks — when he was suspended two games for another illegal hit to the head of David Perron, which was upheld after an appeal hearing with League Commissioner Gary Bettman. Thornton has no other prior suspensions.
Thornton expressed how he viewed the hit after last night’s Game 3 loss:
Full Thornton quote on hitting Nosek: "I honestly thought I barely touched him. He came right back. It was just one of those plays, it is what it is. I think my son hits me like that six times a day. Just a weird position he put himself in, that's all."#SJSharks #VegasBorn— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 15, 2019
The Sharks will be without Thornton for a crucial Game 4 in Vegas tomorrow evening. The Golden Knights lead the series 2-1.