Monday’s Caps-Sharks game was a rather pedestrian affair until TJ Oshie got injured late in the second period. Then all hell broke loose.
As the Caps star attempted to bodycheck Logan Couture, Oshie fell to the ice awkwardly. Joe Thornton, in a bang-bang play, would crunch Oshie’s head into the boards.
The Capitals were not happy with the hit so early in the third period, Barry Trotz put Tom Wilson out on the ice against Thornton. The 23-year-old enforcer stalked Thornton up the ice until the 38-year-old legend agreed to fight.
After the game, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer spoke about his disgust with Wilson and the Capitals bench.
“You know what? If someone would have grabbed Joe in the heat of the moment after the play because they thought a liberty was taken, I’ve got no problem with that,” DeBoer said to the media. “To go into the dressing room, think about it, come out in the first shift, and do that premeditated crap is just garbage.
“Joe’s a man’s man,” DeBoer continued, referencing Thornton’s toughness and possibly his beard. “I think our group appreciates the fact you got a 38-year-old Hall of Famer out there that’s basically forced into that by [Capitals] coaches and their bench. He answers the bell. How can you not appreciate that?”
DeBoer was caught by NBC Sports Washington cameras screaming at Capitals assistant coach Lane Lambert immediately after the fight.
DeBoer would not comment on if he thought Thornton’s hit was dirty or should be reviewed by the Department of Player Safety.
“I don’t know,” DeBoer said. “I don’t have any opinion of it. That’s for other people to decide.”
Inside the Sharks locker room, Thornton wished Oshie well and hoped the Caps forward makes a full recovery.
“He was just falling a little bit,” Thornton said to the Associated Press’s Stephen Whyno. “It’s not like I ran him or anything. I bumped him and it felt like my hip kind of hit him in the head. So it’s just unfortunate what happened.”
A diplomatic Wilson praised Thornton for stepping up to fight — even admitting that he was an athlete he looked up to when he was younger.
“He’s an honest player. He was one of my favorite players growing up. He’s what is good for the game,” Wilson said. “He stood up for himself afterwards. I respect him for that.
“In that instance, that hit, I didn’t like it personally,” Wilson continued. “I don’t think our team liked it. Anytime a guy is down, it’s kind of a no-hit zone. Osh is one of our best players. He’s one of the leaders in this room.”
Wilson also revealed that he saw a replay of the hit.
“I just saw it on the monitor on the bench very quickly,” Wilson said. “It looked like Oshie was in a very vulnerable spot and he gets head contact. That’s the truth. That’s the fact of the matter. Hockey is a sport where you’re able to stand up for your teammate and guys did that on multiple occasions tonight.”