The fight lasted less than 10 seconds and both men were sentenced to five minutes in the box, but during the tilt Kadri ripped out a chunk of Thornton’s infamous beard.
Follicles from Thornton’s dense face mane were strewn all over the Air Canada Centre ice. The evidence was eventually picked up by a linesman, brought back to the Sharks bench and dumped into backup netminder Aaron Dell’s glove.
Kadri latched onto the beard, we presume inadvertently, as he grabbed Jumbo Joe’s jersey while each forward cocked back their right fist. It was Kadri’s sixth career fight in the NHL and only Thornton’s second in the past five years.
In the official NHL rulebook, in the unsportsmanlike conduct section, Rule 75.2 (ii) states a minor penalty shall be assessed to “any player who is guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct including, but not limited to hair-pulling, biting, grabbing hold of a face mask, etc.”
Kadri, however, was not called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Maple Leafs ended up winning the game 3-2 in a shootout with Kadri scoring his team’s second goal.
“I’ve seen a lot of things over 25 years of coaching,” Sharks bench boss Pete DeBoer told reporters after the game. “I’ve never seen a clump of beard on the ice before.”
Kadri said grabbing Thornton’s beard was a complete accident.
“I have no idea, I ended up with a piece of it in my hand. I have no idea how that happened,” the centre told reporters in Toronto. “I thought I was a hockey player and not a barber. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t mean to grab him there. He’s a big boy, I couldn’t reach all the way across his shoulder and felt like I just grabbed him in the middle of his jersey and just came down with a handful of hair.”
San Jose’s training staff even decided to store Thornton’s beard hair in a ziplock bag, according to a photo Sharks play-by-play announcer Randy Hahn posted on Instagram that has since been deleted.