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Hockey world prays Joe Thornton never celebrates four goals

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Joe Thornton's four-goal celebration comment set off the twittersphere

Joe Thornton says if he ever scored four goals, he’d really lay the lumber on the crowd. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan sat rookie sensation Tomas Hertl after he scored his fourth goal against the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Let’s all pray that McLellan does the same thing if Joe Thornton ever gets to three.

The Sharks’ captain was on the outskirts of a media scrum in Vancouver on Thursday afternoon where, naturally, the conversation focused on his linemate’s big game. The questioning began to take a negative turn, prompting Thornton to step in and defend the kid.

What happened next is courtesy Jason Botchford of the Vancouver 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 [mighty sword] out if I scored four goals. I’d have my [Mr. Happy] out, stroking it.”

As far as celebrations go, that’s one way to out-hotdog Theo Fleury’s rinklong slide.

Look, Thornton probably got caught up in the moment and didn’t expect to be quoted. Or maybe he decided to go full shock value with the belief that he couldn’t be quoted. Either way, a guy with more than 1,100 games on his NHL resume has been around long enough to know that if you barge into a scrum and shout something out in front of a group of reporters, it’s not going to stay in the room. Especially not something as magnificently off the wall as that.

Already, the debate is heating up whether Botchford crossed a line by putting the unexpurgated quote in print. (Yes, apparently you can run the C-word in family newspapers these days). This wasn’t an off-the-record moment, so I tend to side with his position:

I also say good on Thornton. Although the whole “have you ever played the game” thing is pretty weak, so was the question that prompted it. And the guy was quick to defend a teammate, which is exactly what you want your captain to do. He’ll probably hear from the league on this, but if he does, it was worth it.

UPDATE: The Good Times Gang over in San Jose have taken exception to Botchford’s decision to run with the quote, according to David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury-News:

“I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone in the industry that ‘locker room talk’ exists,” Sharks director of media relations Scott Emmert said in a prepared statement. “Professional reporters understand that concept and respect it.”

Emmert called use of the quote “a pathetic attempt to generate some page hits and controversy by reporting an off-the-cuff and off-the-record comment made by someone who wasn’t even being interviewed at the time.”

Off the cuff, obviously. Off the record? Not a chance. Come on guys. We get that it might not have been the best representation of the brand, but it was a joke. Lighten up.

  • Published On Oct 10, 2013
  • 13 comments
    JeffWhite
    JeffWhite

    This whole thing has been a laugh, love the quote from Thornton and that pic SI choose for this post is perfect

    rwidger
    rwidger

    Sounds like the reporter is looking for a job at TMZ.   It was a joke, and I really hope the reporter took it as a joke.  Pretty sure Joe Thornton has been around long enough that he is allowed to make jokes in his own locker room.

    BrentStanleyArgueBsa
    BrentStanleyArgueBsa

    Actually, asking beats writers if they  have ever played the game is a great comment. Because most of those guys talk as if they do play the game. Trust me I have served these hockey writers before, and I can tell you, None of them have Ever played the game ...

    MattS
    MattS

    "the have you ever played the game" line is always perfect to use with sports writers, because most of them are wimps who have never competed for anything in their lives - never put it on the line on the playing field in the heat of battle, but they sure are quick to criticize and judge others. They are about on the level with lawyers, evangelical preachers, and congressmen. 

    RyanVanHorne
    RyanVanHorne

    Scott Emmert does not deserve to be director of media relations for any organization. He clearly has no clue about the media and how they do their job. That comment might have been off-colour, but it was not off the record. If you don't like the comment appearing in print, address the source of the quote, don't close ranks and blame the reporter.

    AYahoo!u5er
    AYahoo!u5er

    This is funny. Good for Joe, take the heat off the kid and put it on yourself.

    mathmanmcc
    mathmanmcc

    I've never been a big fan of Joe Thornton.  I am now!

    Yellowbellly
    Yellowbellly

    Big deal.....Fleury's celebration was in pre-season.

    brians356
    brians356

    @RyanVanHorne  

    I respectfully disagree. Botchford could have bleeped the "C" word and still have been quoting Thornton essentially verbatim. and gotten the same effect (like all the other writers did.) As was pointed out, F-bombs etc fly around every locker room and dugout constantly, but beat writers know better than to transfer those to directly print as if they were fair game. They're not.

    RyanVanHorne
    RyanVanHorne

    @Yellowbellly It was an OT goal, dude. OT winner in the playoffs from April 1991. It says so right on the YouTube clip.