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Joe Thornton begins heated new rivalry with Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers

Arun Srinivasan
·Writer
·3-min read
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton had an eventful Saturday night, getting into a feud with Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers. (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton had an eventful Saturday night, getting into a feud with Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers. (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

It was an eventful Saturday night to say the least for Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton and though his team secured a key 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, suffice to say, it's not all sunshine and rainbows for the veteran forward. 

Thornton, who became the oldest goal-scorer in Maple Leafs history during the first period, got into it with Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers throughout the game and came away seething. We're not entirely sure what prompted their feud, but here's a rundown of what happened Saturday: 

It was a pretty chippy game overall and after Ehlers and Thornton put their teams on the board, Saturday's contest got a bit uglier. 

Thornton took a cross-checking penalty late in the third period, with his sticking snapping during the infraction. 

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It's not as if Ehlers was going to be reverential towards his elders in a pivotal contest between the two North division powers. 

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After exchanging more than a few slashes at each other for the duration of the game, Thornton and Ehlers got into a heated shouting match, or more accurately, Thornton yelled for about thirty seconds uninterrupted, while Ehlers mainly just sat there, took it and laughed along. 

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After the game, Thornton tacitly suggested the NHL Department of Player Safety should look into an Ehlers slash, which fuelled his anger Saturday night.

"I think the (NHL Department of Player Safety) is going to look at that slash and not be happy. That's what started everything. I'm not going to dive or anything like that and throw up my hands. But they'll probably take a look at that and I'm sure something will get done," Thornton said post-game. 

Thornton's demonstrated passion is certainly appreciated by Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe: 

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It was a night to remember for Thornton and the Maple Leafs, who extended their lead atop the North Division. Toronto plays Winnipeg again on May 14 to conclude the regular season, another chance for Thornton and Ehlers to add to the NHL's newest individual rivalry. 

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