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Joe Thornton blasts league, feels NHL rules on Bruins side

Nick Spaling #13 of the Nashville Predators keeps the puck away from Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks in the firs period of an NHL hockey game at the HP Pavilion on March 8, 2011 in San Jose, California. The Sharks won the game in overtime 3-2.

Thearon W. Henderson/2011 Getty Images

Jolly Joe Thornton is not prone to creating controversy, but he waded into some dicey territory Thursday when asked about the lack of discipline for Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara.

Asked what reflected worse on the league -- Chara's hit on Montreal's Max Pacioretty, or the lack of further discipline - the San Jose Sharks centre suggested the Bruins get favourable rulings from the NHL.

"It's just something with Boston," Thornton said. "It just seems like they have a horseshoe. We've seen the [Milan]Lucic cross-check to the head [of Dominic Moore]earlier, and there's no disciplinary thing.

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"It's just something about Boston and the disciplinary [process]is on their side. I'm not sure why that is. I'm not assuming that Colin's kid is on the team and that's why, but it's really bizarre."

Colin Campbell is the NHL's vice-president of hockey operations, and normally metes out league justice. He removed himself from the Chara file because his son, Gregory, is a forward with the Bruins, and because presiding over the case could have been a conflict of interest.

But Campbell's objectivity was called into question earlier this season after some e-mails from three years ago showed him complaining to the league's director of officials about penalties called on his son. The elder Campbell defended himself, saying he was simply a "dad venting," and that his tone was not meant to intimidate underlings.

And while we're on the topic of objectivity, let's remember that Thornton was once a Bruin and that there is no love lost between the big centreman and the organization that hoped he would be their franchise player. Just three years ago, former Bruins president and general manager Harry Sinden said "good batting average but no runs batted in" when describing Thornton's seven years in Beantown.

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