Thornton, Nash face tough times

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Joe Thornton had a lot of fun playing in Switzerland and hitting the ski slopes in the Alps with teammate Rick Nash during the lockout.

But hockey karma has come back to bite him in Boston.

First, his back went out, forcing him to miss a couple of contests. Now, the St. Thomas native is competing with Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn for scariest face that currently resembles a Halloween mask after taking a puck in the left eye last Saturday against Pittsburgh.

The puck gods reaffirmed who is boss when the B's bus narrowly missed an out-of-control Jeep on the Gardiner Expressway during this week's trip to Toronto.

To make matters worse, Thornton, 26, was portrayed as a cheap skater in a recent Boston Globe report on how much money in charitable donations the city's star athletes give back to the community.

Thornton's agent J. P. Barry went on defence, claiming the good-hearted puck-chaser has been laying the groundwork for good deeds since signing a three-year deal worth $20 million in August.

"Now that (he) will be staying in Boston, we have spoken about a formalized approach to charity in and around Boston," Barry said in an e-mail. "As you can understand, he has not been in the city for over a year due to the lockout."

Thornton wasn't the only big shooter on the list. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Red Sox slugged Manny Ramirez are there, too.

Not everyone is keen on cosmic karma, but with Thornton's list of negatives and Nash's ankle woes keeping him from scoring goals, this much is clear: the hockey gods don't reward exuberant Eurotrips with 40-goal seasons and perfect health.

Williams taking flight

Raise your hands if you thought the Detroit Red Wings were going to be a force in the NHL this year.

Londoner Jason Williams, who in the pre-salary-cap era was fighting for every scrap of ice time he could get, has a hat trick and leads the surprising high-flying team in assists.

Part of the reason for his output is his hard work and dedication but you can't discount that he's playing on a line with Brendan (the Rulesmaker) Shanahan, an ex-Knight, and Robert Lang.

To see what kind of forward he has on his hands, the best thing a coach can do is to put him on a line with two of his offensive stars. The Colorado Avalanche used to be wildly successful with that formula -- put a peppy youngster out with Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg to gain confidence.

The Philadelphia Flyers have done the opposite with Londoner Jeff Carter, whose average ice time has dwindled into the single-digit minutes.

Carter is seeking his first NHL goal while fellow first-year Michael Richards has already potted a shorthanded marker on Hockey Night in Canada against the Leafs.

In the sticks

Londoner Mark Mancari, the former Ottawa 67's sniper, has two assists in two games with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. His teammates on the Buffalo/Florida joint farm team include Stratford's Chris Taylor (nine points in six games), Tillsonburg's Gregory Campbell (three in six), former Knights tough guy Sean McMorrow and Petrolia goalie Mike Leighton, an ex-Windsor Spitfire. Derek Roy, who captained the Kitchener Rangers to a Memorial Cup in 2003, is the team's leading scorer.


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