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Shawn Thornton consulting with Bruins, NHLPA about ‘next steps’

12.14.13 at 6:18 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton

Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said the following in a statement released by the team following the announcement of his 15-game suspension Saturday:

“I am aware of today’s ruling by the NHL Department of Player Safety. I will be consulting with the Bruins, my representation and the NHLPA about next steps, and will be in a position to address the matter publicly after speaking with those parties. Until then I will have no further comment.”

The “next steps” to which Thornton refers is the option of appealing the suspension. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, players can appeal suspensions that are for more than six games. Such appeals first go to the commissioner, and then to a neutral arbitrator. Players have 48 hours after their ruling to appeal.

If Thornton is to appeal the suspension, he will be the second player to do so this season. Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta appealed his 10-game suspension in October but did not take it any further after after his ban was upheld by Gary Bettman.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli also offered a statement on the suspension, though he had little to say.

“We respect the process including the ability to attend and present our case in person,” Chiarelli said. “At this time, we will decline comment until the process is complete and Shawn has exhausted all rights available to him.”

Under Thornton’s 15-game suspension, of which he has served three games already, he is currently in line to be eligible to return to the Bruins lineup on Jan. 11 in San Jose.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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No priors needed: Shawn Thornton’s attack deserved lengthy ban

12.14.13 at 5:23 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton was suspended 15 games for attacking Brooks Orpik.

Think what you want to think about it, but as you form your opinion, don’t forget that the punishment was over that act. By Brendan Shanahan giving Thornton 15 games (the longest regular-season Shanaban to date), he was saying that Thornton’s actions were worth a 15-game suspension.

[Yup, that lede just said the same thing three times. Hopefully one of them took.]

The ban was greeted with fans and media taking umbrage with the fact that a suspension of that length was given to clean a player who had never been suspended previously.

 

We all know what kind of a player Thornton is and that he’s as big a class act as any Boston athlete. We also know that whether a player is a repeat offender (meaning they’ve been suspended within the last 18 months, according to the league) is considered in these things, but does being a clean player mean Thornton’s deplorable actions last Saturday shouldn’t be treated as seriously as they were?

Thornton isn’t a dirty player, but watch the incident on its own and remember that Shanahan’s job was to give a suspension based on what happened between the whistles in the first period of that game. Fight that urge to say “But James Neal…” and watch the video.

It was really, really, bad.

Not that you care, but the reaction here? Admittedly, it was more than I expected — when I saw it live, I thought it was worth at least 10, then I settled at 10 — but then again we haven’t seen many incidents with comparable circumstances and outcomes as what happened last Saturday. If you thought a double-digit suspension was deserved, it’s hard to be outraged by 15.

Track record is something that can be of obvious benefit when determining whether a player deserves to be punished for a hit. If a player is known for cheap shots, they shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt on a borderline dirty play.

Yet the incident for which Thornton was punished wasn’t one based on a matter of split seconds, the principal point of contact or whether somebody turned. It was as black and white as it gets. It was somebody at a stoppage of play going up behind another player, kicking their feet out from under them and punching them in the head repeatedly, including when the victim was down. There’s no question of how it happened or what the intent was.

“This cannot be described as a hockey play that went bad, nor can we consider this a spontaneous reaction to an incident that just occurred,” Shanahan said in the video explaining the suspension.

Fifteen games is a long time. It’s three times what Neal got for sticking his leg out and kneeing Brad Marchand in the head. That’s a tough pill to swallow for Bruins fans, and it should be. Neal deserved more than a phone hearing, and considering he’d been suspended twice before, five games was light.

It’s easy to get distracted when forming an opinion over the Thornton incident. The fact that he’s a clean player, the fact that he was responding to a hit he didn’t like and the fact that Neal wasn’t properly punished cloud things, but don’t forget that the reason Thornton’ won’t be playing until Jan. 11 is because of his attack on Orpik.

Being a good guy or a clean player doesn’t make it any better or any worse. Thornton’s actions were deserving of a big punishment and that’s what they got.

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Shawn Thornton suspended 15 games

12.14.13 at 2:17 pm ET
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Bruins forward Shawn Thornton has been suspended 15 games by the NHL for attacking Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik in the first period of last Saturday’s game. The suspension is the longest regular-season punishment given to a player by head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.

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Shawn Thornton’s suspension to be announced Saturday

12.13.13 at 7:42 pm ET
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The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Friday that it will reveal the length of the suspension for Bruins forward Shawn Thornton on Saturday. Thornton had an in-person hearing Friday in New York for last Saturday’s attack on Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik.

Thornton, who had never been suspended previously, has already served three games of a suspension that could end up in the 10-game range. Orpik suffered a concussion on the play and resumed skating Friday.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Chad Johnson, Jarome Iginla lead Bruins past Oilers

12.13.13 at 12:09 am ET
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Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson

The Bruins continued what’s been a successful road trip Thursday with a 4-2 win over the Oilers at Rexall Place.

Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead after a first period in which Dennis Seidenberg scored on one of his famous fake dump-ins, Jarome Iginla sent a puck past both a screening Milan Lucic and Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk, and Brad Marchand tallied a shorthanded goal.

Dubnyk was replaced by Jason LaBarbera at the start of the second period, and the Oilers got back in the game with a pair of goals from David Perron. After the Bruins were able to kill off a pair of late penalties in the third period, Iginla sealed the win for the B’s with an empty-netter.

Picking up the win for the Bruins was Chad Johnson, who improved to 6-1-0 on the season. Johnson made a career-high 39 saves in the win.

The Bruins will wrap up their West Coast road trip Saturday with their first trip back to Vancouver since winning the Stanley Cup there in 2011.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Johnson gave up a couple of bad goals in the second period, but he came up huge with a glove save on Nail Yakupov from the slot five minutes into the third period on a play that could have tied the game. He then made another stop on a Jordan Eberle shot with the Oukers on a man advantage midway through the third.

– The Bruins came up big on that third-period interference penalty on Marchand, as a unit of Gregory Campbell, Jordan Caron, Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk silenced the Oilers on a very lengthy possession that saw Boychuk block a one-timer from Eberle.

The Bruins had an easier time on a Dennis Seidenberg penalty with just over three minute to play, as the B’s cleared the puck regularly against a desperate Oilers team late.

– The occasionally sneaky Seidenberg was up to his old tricks again for the Bruins’ first goal. Taking the puck through the neutral zone, Seidenberg looked to be dumping the puck into the offensive zone until he fired a wrist shot at the blue line that fooled Dubnyk. Remember, this is the same guy who had a pair of center-ice goals over the last few years, one of which came when he gained the red line and, faked a dump-in and threw a wrist shot past Mike Smith back on Dec. 2, 2010.

– It isn’t necessarily a good thing given that it took Lucic off the ice, but Lucic said recently that he expected to get to his usual six or seven fights a season and he meant it. Though his Nov. 30 fight against Dalton Prout was just his first bout of the season, Lucic’s fight Thursday with Luke Gazdic marked his third fight of the season, all of which have occurred over the last six games.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The B’s had another injury scare when Seidenberg got hit up high by a shot from the point. Seidenberg turned his head in time to not get hit in the face by the puck, but he was still down for a few moments, with trainer Don DelNegro tending to him on the ice. Fortunately for the banged-up Bruins, Seidenberg stayed in the game.

– The Oilers stepped up their game big-time in the second period, and it was capped by a bad goal late. Johnson, making a save off a puck Perron had tipped from Eberle, poked the puck with his blocker right back to Perron at the side of the net, with Perron then scoring on a wraparound.

– On the subject of Perron’s goals, neither of them were good goals for Johnson to allow. Perhaps Seidenberg was screening him on the Oilers’ first goal, as there’s no other excuse to not stop the wrist shot that beat him stick side high.

– His line was used as a fourth line, but Ryan Spooner‘s struggles at the faceoff dot weren’t an issue. Why? Because his line was only on the ice for one faceoff and he won it. That’s one way to solve the problem. Spooner was given only two shifts in the third period and didn’t play the final 12 minutes of regulation as Claude Julien shortened his bench in a one-goal game.

Campbell took most of the faceoffs for the Bruins, going 11-for-23. Spooner finished with just 8:16 of ice time.

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Andy Brickley on M&M: NHL will ‘make an example’ of Shawn Thornton with lengthy suspension, but Brooks Orpik should have answered call to fight earlier

12.12.13 at 12:17 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni via phone from Edmonton, where the B’s play Thursday night, for his weekly discussion about the team.

Shawn Thornton is awaiting word from the league how long he will suspended following his confrontation with Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik in Saturday’s game.

“No question he crossed the line, he’s aware of that, and the league will obviously discipline him, use him as an example,” Brickley said. “This is the type of stuff that’s a hot-button issue in the National Hockey League — injuries, concussions, bad decisions, bad hits in the game. That’s what they’re trying to clean up, and it’s an opportunity for the league to really make an example of him, which they probably will do.

“Certainly in the moment, when we were doing the broadcast, when the initial hit [by Orpik on Loui Eriksson] was made and then Eriksson was concussed, obviously, no penalty on the play, I thought it was a borderline hit, could have been a penalty, could not have been a penalty. I have a hard time even with my experience knowing what’s a penalty and what’s not a penalty anymore. …

“When the first hit by Orpik was made on Eriksson, then he was challenged initially, if you remember, by Dougie Hamilton — no response. Then Shawn Thornton had the opportunity to challenge Orpik — no response. That’s when you know, because you’ve been there, that this is going to get ugly. Because if you’re not going to handle it the way the Bruins feel it should be handled, then people were going to start crossing lines and the game was going to get ugly. You knew it was going to happen, and I think that’s where it started to break down.”

Brickley said Orpik, who is known as a hard hitter but someone who does not fight, could have handled the situation better.

“This kid, he’s a good player, he’s a good hitter, he likes to hit in open ice,” Brickley said. “But he’s also got a reputation for a guy that hits the Loui Erikssons, the Jeff Skinners. He broke Erik Cole‘s neck from hitting him from behind. … When you have a reputation like that, you have to answer for those types of hits if you’re going to play that way. It’s plain and simple. That’s code. If you want to talk code, that’s code.”

Added Brickley: “Just flip it around if you want to have this kind of conversation. If Johnny Boychuck stands up and knocks Chris Kunitz on a borderline hit, interference, on-the-puck play, if you want to call it that, and Deryk Engelland comes over and challenges Boychuck, what does Boychuck do? … That’s how those plays get defused and you don’t get into the nasty anymore.”

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Reilly Smith scores game-winner as Bruins come from behind vs. Flames

12.11.13 at 12:09 am ET
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Reilly Smith

Reilly Smith

The Bruins scored two late goals to come from behind and beat the Flames, 2-1, Tuesday night in Calgary.

David Krejci broke up Reto Berra’s shutout bid on a power play by tipping a Torey Krug shot past the Flames goaltender with 6:11 remaining. Shortly after, Reilly Smith capped a rush by beating Berra to make it 2-1.

Jiri Hudler got the Flamers on the board in the second period with a wrist shot from the outside that beat Tuukka Rask. The teams hit the second intermission with the Flames outshooting the B’s, 22-9, as the Bruins mustered just five and four shots on goal in the first and second periods, respectively.

Rask made 26 saves in the win, helping keep the game a one-goal contest until the Bruins were able to find some offense in the third.

The Bruins’ road trip will continue Thursday when the B’s take on the Oilers in Edmonton.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- As was expected, the Saddledome was all about Jarome Iginla Tuesday night. In addition to a nice pre-game ceremony and video tribute, the longtime Flames captain was named the game’s third star so he could take another postgame lap around the ice. As he tried to get off the ice, his Bruins teammates stood at the door and pushed him back out, making him take three laps in front of a roaring crowd that included his parents.

- Claude Julien switched up the Bruins’ second and third lines in the third period by putting Smith back on the third line with Spooner and Soderberg. Spooner fed Smith before he took off on the rush on which he scored the game-winner.

- Johnny Boychuk returned from a back sprain for the B’s, which is a good sign for a team that is seeing its players drop like flies.

- Kevan Miller was once again used with the opponent having their goalie pulled. The B’s used him there with Zdeno Chara against the Penguins two weeks ago, but unlike when Sidney Crosby tied it in that game, the B’s closed the door against the Flames.

- The Bruins woke up for the third period after a sluggish opening 40 minutes. After killing off the remainder of a too-many-men penalty, the B’s opened the third period by getting 10 of the first 11 shots on goal.

- Old friend Joe Colborne didn’t help the B’s a ton by helping land them Tomas Kaberle, but he helped them Tuesday when he took the delay of game penalty that led to Krejci’s goal.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- Hudler’s goal was not the Bruins’ finest moment. The play started when Reilly Smith couldn’t get the puck deep into the Calgary zone, and after the puck went the other way and Dennis Seidenberg kept Hudler to the outside, Rask couldn’t grab Hudler’s wrist shot glove side.

- What has three forwards and can’t win faceoffs? Boston’s third line. Ryan Spooner got off to another awful start in the faceoff circle, losing his first five draws, and saw Carl Soderberg take over responsibilities for the second straight game. Soderberg lost two of three he took in the second period, with the line hitting the second intermission 1-for-8 at the dot. Spooner finally won his first draw of the last two games about midway through the third period.

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