Thornton's blast not a captain's move

November 2, 2011, 4:32 pm
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And now, a brief word on and for Joe Thornton, whose latest brush with fame was calling the New York Rangers the softest team we played on the road trip after losing, 5-2 on Monday night.

Are you nuts?

RELATED: Thornton admits to poor word choice
Thornton, the Sharks captain and coming off his most complete year ever, dropped that little postgame gem in hopes of explaining that the Sharks could have, with better and smarter efforts, beaten the Rangers as well.

But a few things inexcusably escaped him as the words tumbled out of his mouth. That is, unless something happened on ice or away from eyeshot of which we are unaware, and since hes not saying, we cant be assuming.

RELATED: Rangers coach says Thornton should 'just shut up'

1. Calling a team soft is like calling your date ugly, and stupid. Youll win no good night kiss that way, and earn the wrath of someone whom, while you may never see them again, can still work you over after youve left.
2. Insulting a team, even inadvertently, without some tangible benefit, is not useful. The Sharks dont play the Rangers again until next year, if the league doesnt lock out the players again, unless they meet in the Stanley Cup Final. Which they wont. So getting under the skin of a team you wont see for potentially two years is like deliberately irritating a opponent while youre on an exhibition tour.
3. Saying anything in New York is by definition shouting it.
4. And getting reminded of the one flaw in your own resume by a guy with a megaphone and a healthy regard for his own profane vocabulary like John Tortorella is frankly asking for it. Thorntons reputation is that of the hard-working, diligent and talented teammate who also has no Stanley Cup Final appearances, and Tortorella, who needed cover from his teams Sean Avery-in-Hartford fiasco, used Thornton to divert the media from his own issue while hitting Thornton in the smalls with Thorntons issue -- no hardware.

Thornton knew all this, or should have. Hes been around. He knows New York. He knows Tortorella. He knows his own rep. And he got so little tactical or strategic benefit from his words that one can only assume that he didnt actually mean to say it the way it came out.

But he said it, and the tape does not mitigate his guilt much. The only thing he really has going for him is that it is such a minor matter that it will be forgotten soon enough. Unless, of course, the world tilts badly on its axis and the Sharks do play the Rangers in late May. In that case, he just made a three-day story where one didnt need to exist, which is not a captains move.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for