Toews Took Unnecessary Risk Fighting Thornton.

 The highlight of Friday’s San Jose Sharks-Chicago Blackhawks game was a fight between Joe Thornton and Jonathan Toews, the respective captains of their clubs and two of the game’s biggest stars.

Toews was apparently fed up with Thornton needling him whenever the two clubs meet. The two also have a bit of a dust-up history. During a game on February 10, 2012, Thornton threw a couple of punches at Toews’ head during a scrum between the two benches, sparking speculation those punches resulted in a subsequent concussion suffered by the Blackhawks captain.

In the post-game interview, Toews explained the fight was something he felt he needed to do to stand up for himself, adding he was glad he did it.

Thornton isn’t renowned as a fighter, but the 6-4, 215 lb center does have a few tilts under his belt, most of which (according to the good folks at he’s won. The big Shark won this scrap with the over-matched Toews, who was  lucky to emerge relatively unscathed.

Toews’ actions earned praise from some observers. After all, hockey is a “man’s game” (which must come as a surprise to participants in women’s hockey), and as a team captain, Toews must lead by example and earn respect from teammates and opponents like Thornton.

One wonders, however, what the reaction would’ve been if Thornton had landed one good, solid punch to Toews’ head?

Toews has a history of concussions in his short NHL career, missing a total of 28 games to date. By wanting to stand up for himself, he put himself at significant risk for another concussion.

Had that happened, nobody would be singing his praises about earning respect and sticking up for himself. They’d be talking about what a stupid risk he’d taken, and how he’d put his season, possibly even his career, in jeopardy. 

Fortunately, that didn’t happen, but Toews might not be so fortunate again.

Toews hopefully got that out of his system, and in future games against the Sharks will focus instead on hurting them where it counts most: on the scoreboard.

The NHL is a much better league with Jonathan Toews demonstrating leadership by playing the game, rather than sidelined indefinitely over a desire to defend a supposed threat to his honor.


  1. All tho he needs to stand up for himself, (use the scoreboard instead as Lyle suggested) as team captain he needs to put the team ahead of himself. They are better with him in the lineup then out.

  2. I was thrilled to see Toews sticking up for himself against Thornton; however, as you pointed out given his concussion history it was certainly a risky move that fortunately paid off this time.

  3. Yes, he put himself at risk of sustaining another concussion but if Thornton has been taking liberties with Toews and that includes saying things that somehow demean Jonathon, then especially as was pointed out about NHL hockey being a man’s game, sometimes a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do.
    Just like in dealing with any bully, once you show them that you are not going to take their crap anymore they usually leave you alone.
    Good for him for dropping the mitts and throwing a few.
    Now next time someone else needs to deal with Thornton and leave Toews to do what he does best.

  4. You are aware that this had a revenge history to it, right? Thornton cheap shotted toews last year while the refs were in between them, clowe joined the parade after too, which many believe was the reason behind Toews concussion, since his head snapped back. Look “toews thornton mix it up” on youtube.

    • You are aware I noted that in the column, right? Second paragraph.

  5. I was under the impression that if a player instigates a fight while wearing a visor, it should be an unsportsmanlike minor as well. This is the second time in 2 games that a Blackhawk player has started a fight with a Shark while wearing their visor. People like to talk about how tough he is for sticking up for himself, but as far as i’m concerned, Toews did it to try and negate a stupid cross checking penalty he knew he shouldn’t have taken. He figured by fighting Thronton, he could get the sharks best PP player off the ice, while not risking much, by turtle-ing behind his helmet and visor once he dropped the gloves first on Joe. Not sportsman like, not classy, and most certainly not “manly”