Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 10/31/11

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 12: Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks awaits a face off during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on January 12, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Sharks defeated the Coyotes 3-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By Alexander Monaghan
President 

Following tonight’s disappointing 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton felt the need to blow off steam. Instead of giving his opponent credit for playing a better game, he downplayed the victors. According to Chris Botta of the New York Times, via Twitter, Thornton said “They were probably the softest team we played on this trip. We should have had these 2 points.”

Although the Sharks won their previous five games, they did so against three slumping teams — New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings — and did so with only an eight-goal differential. Two of their victories were won by only one goal, the other three games all had empty net goals.

These Sharks are certainly a strong team. They feature two scoring lines with speed to burn. Their additions of Martin Havlat, Brent Burns, Michal Handzus, Andrew Murray and Colin White have all helped on both ends of the ice. However, tough they are not.

Who knows what Thornton was thinking by berating a team the Sharks will not play again this season; perhaps frustration set in. How many hits has Jumbo Joe laid down on the team’s opponents this season? Three. Last season he registered 56 checks which matches Mats Zuccarello‘s total over 42 games. Fifteen members of the Rangers out-hit Thornton, maybe he simply thought he was still playing their 2005-2006 rendition.

Team toughness and grit is certainly not everything. Nevertheless, what was Thornton thinking? The Sharks rank fifth in total hits this season. Last season they ranked 17th in the League, 17 behind the Rangers’ top ranking. This attitude has prevented the Sharks from advancing past the Western Conference Finals two years in a row or shedding the dreaded ‘choker’ label. While undeniably talented, flat defensive efforts and untimely poor netminding from Antti Niemi will not get them far in the playoff picture. They have become the biggest enigma in the Western Conference, perhaps the entire league.

Thornton himself has been a model of inconsistency over the past few years. His point totals continue to decline without any identifiable pattern. He no longer is the centerpiece of the team’s offense with Logan Couture manning a powerful second line and outscoring him last season. His wingers, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau, help make up for wherever his game is lacking as the organization moves towards a team-oriented system.

The quote, or misquote, likely was misconstrued by local media as it comes after a somewhat shocking performance. Not all of us have to deal with cameras and tape recorders rolling while frustration sets in. The captain likely remembers that their five-game win streak came pretty tough and they expected to defeat a struggling club. His comments could actually be a roundabout way of holding the team accountable for the loss, opposed to saying they were outplayed. All part of the growing pains of a winning team — one that continues to learn that they simply will not win on paper.


MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: LeBron James just made this ridiculous play

Steve Kerr: MRI shows Jordan Bell has bone bruise

Ryan Murray couldn't finish practice, Florida close to having Luongo back

Pitch clock likely for 2018 despite ongoing disagreement between MLB, MLBPA

Baker Mayfield wants to be drafted by Miami Dolphins

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Joel Embiid fans bombard Rihanna after his All-Star nod

Kris Dunn out indefinitely after entering concussion protocol

LeBron James does not trust Cavs organization after Kyrie Irving trade?

WATCH: Joel Embiid thanks fans for making him All-Star starter

'First-Grade Advice' story shows Jaguars are ultimate underdog against Patriots

Saints' Alvin Kamara hilariously puts Twitter troll on blast

The 'Baby I'm a (All-)Star' quiz

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

NFL Championship Weekend Predictions: History will be made in the NFC

Johnny Gaudreau, Flames hope layoff won't cool them down

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: The Saints miss an important long-distance call

Ranking baseball's GMs entering the 2018 season

Greatest NFL Conference Championship moments ever

Case Keenum deserves better than the also-ran description

Best performances in the history of NFL Conference Championship games

10 keys to watch for the NFL conference championships

The 'Fumble and The Miss' quiz

College basketball’s most underrated stars

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The 'Baby I'm a (All-)Star' quiz

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

Ranking baseball's GMs entering the 2018 season

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: The Saints miss an important long-distance call

Johnny Gaudreau, Flames hope layoff won't cool them down

The 'Fumble and The Miss' quiz

NFL Championship Weekend Predictions: History will be made in the NFC

Greatest NFL Conference Championship moments ever

The 'All Jolly Rogers at half-mast' quiz

Best players to debut on the 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker