Originally Published: January 7, 2018 6 a.m.
TORONTO (AP) _ Nazem Kadri was an assist short of a bizarre Gordie Howe hat trick.
Kadri ripped out part of Joe Thornton’s mountain-man beard in a fight off the opening faceoff and scored in regulation in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 3-2 shootout victory over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
Thornton and Kadri dropping the gloves just two seconds after being tossed out of the opening faceoff for slashing each other like manic lumberjacks. The 38-year-old Thornton’s beard took a beating in the scrap, thanks to Kadri hanging on to the beard rather than his jersey as he was twirled around by the bigger Shark. A hunk of Thornton’s facial hair was left on the ice like a mini-tumbleweed.
“I ended up with a piece of it in my hand,” Kadri said. “I have no idea how that happened
“I thought I was a hockey player not a barber. I didn’t mean to grab him there. I mean he’s a big boy. I couldn’t reach all the way across his shoulder. I felt like I just grabbed him in the middle of his jersey and just came down with a handful of his hair.”
Thornton didn’t comment after the game.
The hair ultimately found its way to the glove of backup goalie Aaron Dell on the San Jose bench.
“We were trying to figure out what it was,” Sharks forward Chris Tierney said.
Kadri, who was giving up at least 4 inches and 30 pounds to Thornton, had a welt on the side of his face as a souvenir of the fight.
“I didn’t see that coming,” said former Shark Patrick Marleau.