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Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘Now I go back to playing the way I played the last 600 games’

01.02.14 at 10:04 am ET

Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning for the first time since receiving a 15-game suspension last month, and the Bruins enforcer acknowledged he “messed up” and is eagerly awaiting his return to the team on Jan. 11. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Thornton was punished for grabbing Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, pulling him down and punching him during a game on Dec. 7. Orpik was knocked out and had to miss eight games while recovering from the concussion.

It was the first suspension of Thornton’s career, and he hopes it won’t affect his reputation.

“I messed up. I know that,” Thornton said. “I talked about it the other day: I’m not going to let it define me. It’s a mistake I made after 600 games playing right on the line. To be completely honest, doing my job is not an easy one, as far as riding the line.

“It’s tough to talk about because I know I messed up, but I plan on playing a couple more years and playing within the rules. The outcome wasn’t was expected, either. A very unfortunate set of circumstances, why I messed up, it can happen. Yeah, the money sucks, the games really suck. But I’m going to put it behind me now and move on.”

Thornton said he was limited in how much he can discuss the appeal process, but he made it clear he still believes the suspension that league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan handed out — and commissioner Gary Bettman backed upon appeal — was too long.

“It’s tough for me to talk about, because we’re legally not allowed. There’s a provision in our CBA that I can’t really bad-mouth the decision,” Thornton said. “But I definitely thought that 15 was a little excessive. How many games? I don’t know. It’s not my job. And I know it’s not an easy job to assess those things. But I thought that being the lengthiest suspension he’s ever handed out was a little bit much for my first-time offense, I guess.”

Thornton went after Orpik shortly after the defenseman hit Loui Eriksson and gave the forward a concussion — one of a few questionable acts by Penguins players during the game. “There was a bunch of action and situations that arose during that game that led to that,” Thornton said. However, Thornton insisted that he was in control when he confronted Orpik — who earlier turned down an opportunity to fight — during a scrum.

“I will say that probably on the outside looking in, everyone probably thought I snapped,” Thornton said. “That wasn’t the case.”

Thornton said he has no plans to change his on-ice approach when he returns.

“It was a one-time thing,” he said. “It was outside the lines. Everyone knows that. I paid the price for it handsomely. But now I go back to playing the way I played the last 600 games. It’s no different.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at

On if he’s been in touch with Orpik since the incident: “I talked to him right afterwards. I was going to shoot him a text yesterday, I was going to say congrats on making the U.S. Olympic team; maybe I’ll do that today. I’m glad he’s back playing. He only missed six or seven days, I think, before he started skating again. That was good to see. … I was never trying to injure him. Listen, there’s some guys I can’t stand in this league that I haven’t tried to injure. I like Brooksie. It wasn’t the outcome that I had intended going in.”

On if he feels that Orpik’s hit on Eriksson was clean: “I don’t know. To be completely honest, after my incident, I didn’t turn on a TV, look at a newspaper, watch anything. So, I only saw the hit live. I can’t give you an honest opinion on it. From what I’m told, I think it’s one of those things that you can argue it on both sides unit the cows come home. So,  I’ll probably just go home.”

On having to stand up for teammate Brad Marchand: “Hey, if it wasn’t for him I might not have a job. [Laughs] He plays on the edge. He plays with an edge, too. I think that’s what makes him a successful player. He’s my teammate. I don’t hold him responsible. That’s what he’s supposed to do — score goals and agitate. He does a good job [of] it. I like that he’s on my team. … Marchy’s great, too. If I need to — not just me, but our team, coach, anybody talks to him and says, ‘Listen, maybe dial it down a bit here when you’re getting too fired up,’ he’s got pretty good ears on him. He’ll listen.”

On why he didn’t take his case to an independent arbitrator: “This is the last little stretch of it. I wouldn’t have been able to get into the arbitrator until Saturday at best, probably wouldn’t have gotten a ruling until next Thursday, which is like 15 games anyways, the way it’s kind of dragged on. The chance of saving a couple of games pay-wise or just focused on getting ready for next Saturday, I think I just decided I’d put my head with the week and a half to go get ready, right mind frame. It’s been long. It’s been too long. God, it really kills me to be up there watching my team out there without me.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Brooks Orpik, Loui Eriksson, Shawn Thornton
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