You probably know what I am referring to already, but if you don’t then allow me to break it down for you.
In the latter stages of Boston’s 4-2 win in Game Five of the 2014 Eastern Conference semi-finals over the Montreal Canadiens, Bruins fourth line antagonist Shawn Thornton shot a jet of water from his water bottle into the face of Habs star blueliner P.K. Subban as Subban skated past the Bruins bench with the puck.
What resulted on the ice, was, well, nothing. Nothing other than a whole bunch of complaining with zero action taking place.
Subban was angry, reasonably so after getting an unexpected shower, and exchanged words with a laughing Thornton while Thornton was on the Bruins bench.
Subban then went and complained to the referee about what had happened (to no avail). Thornton did not receive a penalty on the play because the officials never saw the offense occur.
Later on, however, Thornton received a fine of US$2,820.52 for unsportsmanlike conduct; the maximum amount that a player could be fined under the league’s collective bargaining agreement (the money, the equivalent of half a day’s pay for Thornton, goes into the coffers of the Player’s Emergency Assistance Fund).
But was it really that big of a deal? Does Thornton deserve a suspension for his actions? No, it wasn’t and no he doesn’t (cue Habs fans hatred towards me).
It was a jerk move, there’s no arguing that. Thornton definitely went above and beyond his dual role as Bruins agitator/enforcer when he did something as childish as spray Subban’s face (and shield) with water with just over 46 seconds remaining in the game.
However, what he did was effective (even if it had no impact on that particular game). He got under the skin of Subban and the entire Habs fan base; something that will carry over through the series, even if Subban and company say it wasn’t a big deal.
Childish? No doubt about it. Effective? For sure.
For those that are still saying “Well, Thornton should be punished for what he did. That fine is nothing, he should get suspended”, I beg you, please look at it this way. Thornton could just as easily have ran Carey Price through the net, crunched little Brendan Gallagher from behind or speared Subban in the stomach. He could have chopped at Max Pacioretty’s hands or legs like a lumberjack hacking at wood. But he didn’t.
Instead, all he did was channel his inner Taylor Hall and spray water into the face of Subban (I’m aware Hall’s spray was accidental). So, in the end, it was nowhere near as bad as people are making it out to be.
Like I said before, it’s a jerk move, there’s no doubt about it.
Then again, it’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s the greatest rivalry in the NHL and the hatred between these two teams runs deep. Subban should be relieved that all Thornton did was go all kindergarten on him.
And in a series with so much on the line, a little idiotic humour is never a bad thing.