Bruins forward Shawn Thornton  received a match penalty and thus automatic ejection and suspension for a predatory play that forced Penguins  defenseman Brooks Orpik from Saturday night’s game on a stretcher.
After Orpik crushed Bruins forward Loui Eriksson with a hit that knocked Eriksson out for the game, Thornton tried to fight Orpik minutes later, but when Orpik declined Thornton was sent off for roughing. Later in the period, after Brad Marchand  had taken a knee to the head from James Neal, Thornton skated over to a scrum, grabbed Orpik from behind, threw him to the ice and punched him in the head twice.
Orpik remained down on the ice for several minutes before being taken off the ice on a stretcher. The Penguins  issued an update following the second period saying that Orpik was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital and was both alert and conscious.
Thornton has never been suspended before, but he is likely to receive a sizable suspension, while Neal is also in line for supplemental discipline. Orpik could also hear from the league for his hit on Eriksson.
Recently, Thornton spoke specifically in an ESPN interview  about “the code” that players must adhere to and the pride he takes in it. He even pointed out the scenario of sucker-punching players that are down.
“I take a lot of pride in that. I do,” Thornton said. “People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable, I suppose, in some instances. I’ve been a firm believer my whole life that what goes around comes around. If you’re one of those guys that suckers someone when they’re down or you go after somebody that doesn’t deserve it or isn’t the same category as you, that will come back and bite you at some point, too. I also take a lot of pride in the fact that I can play 8-12 minutes a night. I’ve had to work extremely hard on that part of my game to bring more to the table than just fighting. That’s part of my game, but I can do a lot more.”
“We’re all guilty of that stuff. We’re suspending guys for illegal hits and then we’re punishing guys for good, clean hits,” Julien said. “So where does a guy have the opportunity to go out and play a physical game if there’s a good hit, he knows he’s going to be punished. So I guess there’s that fine line there that becomes important to look at. You want to stick up for your teammate, but at the same time we don’t want to take the good physicality out of the game. And every team is guilty of that; including us.
“We’ve made a reputation of that by saying we’re going to stick together; and that’s great. So you’re treading a fine line there when it comes to that. … If we want to clean up the game, we want to be honest with both sides when it happens to us or against us, let’s call a spade a spade.”
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