David Backes Proved That Joe Thornton Isn't A True Beard Guy, And That Doesn't Bode Well For The Sharks
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that one little beard tugging match has all but decided the outcome of the Western Conference Final. I will say that it did more than test the durability of a man's grungy, ungroomed face sweater. This NHL equivalent of a girl fight reminded us that Joe Thornton is still the same guy that has made a habit out of perennially choking in the playoffs. It reminded us that no matter how much of his face he covers with an unkempt mane, it's still the face that has become synonymous with postseason failure. I don't think Joe Thornton has warranted all the criticism he's faced on a year-to-year basis, nor do I think he's as soft of a player as everyone else accuses him of being. That being said, the fact that David Backes didn't hesitate to reinact a scene from every bad Christmas movie ever made shows that the St Louis Blues still view him as susceptible to intimidation.
He might technically be a beard guy, but he doesn't get the respect of a beard guy. He gets the respect of a guy that would rather show up 10 minutes late to the office than show up with a 5 o'clock shadow. He may have the look of a hardened veteran, but he's got the reputation of a wide-eyed, baby-faced amateur that's too easily overwhelmed by the moment. Think of all the people in your life that have an exorbitant amount of facial hair. How many of those guys have you seen get that hair tugged in a mocking, threatening fashion? I'm willing to bet that answer is zero. Not because all beard guys are tough as nails, but because they give off the vibe that they aren't to be fucked with. Regardless of how much different Joe Thornton looks from year's past, he still hasn't done enough to convince teams they can't get the better of him when the game is on the line - beard or not.