San Jose center Joe Thorton only made it through half of the Sharks’ 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Thornton was ejected for spearing Blues center Paul Stastny 11:09 into the second period of Saturday night’s game by referees Mike Leggo and Graham Skilliter. Off a neutral zone faceoff, Stastny gave Thornton a whack across the midsection. The Sharks center responded with a spear.
Thornton exchanged a few words with the St. Louis bench as he was escorted off the ice by linesman John Grandt.
“I’ve battled against him a few times, and sometimes guys get angry if you get in their way or give them a crosscheck,” Stastny said. “But, it’s an obvious call. It’s a dangerous play.”
“You’re surprised when anyone does it,” Stastny added. “[It’s] 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.”
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzCSN) January 15, 2017
San Jose’s Logan Couture though the penalty was a bit harsh for the severity of the hit.
“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.”
Referees for the game were Mike Leggo and Graham Skilliter. Linesmen were Vaughan Rody.
The NHL rulebook defines spearing under Rule 62:
62.1 Spearing – Spearing shall mean stabbing an opponent with the point of the stick blade, whether contact is made or not.
62.2 Double-minor Penalty – A double-minor penalty will be imposed on a player who spears an opponent and does not make contact.
62.3 Major Penalty – A major penalty shall be imposed on a player who spears an opponent (see 62.5).
62.4 Match Penalty – A match penalty shall be imposed on a player who injures an opponent as a result of a spear.
62.5 Game Misconduct Penalty – Whenever a major penalty is assessed for spearing, a game misconduct penalty must also be imposed.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety will undoubtedly be reviewing the play to determine whether supplemental discipline is warranted.