|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.”
|Shawn Thornton not taking appeal to independent arbitrator||12.31.13 at 12:12 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Shawn Thornton will not appeal his 15-game suspension to a neutral arbitrator.
Thornton’s suspension for attacking Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7 was upheld by commissioner Gary Bettman last week, with Thornton having seven days to take the appeal to an independent arbitrator. Thornton has served 10 of his 15 games thus far and will be eligible to return to the lineup Jan. 11 in San Jose.
“I’m still not happy with the amount of games I got,” Thornton said. “I know I’m not a victim, but I’m not happy with the amount of games I got. But I respect the decision and I’d rather just move on mentally and focus on getting ready for the 11th instead of focusing on getting ready for another hearing.”
With Thornton choosing not to take the process further, there has still been no instances of players appealing suspensions to neutral arbitrators, which is allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement. Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta appealed his 10-game suspension to Bettman in October but also declined to advance the process after his ban was upheld. The decision to not go further was made at the last minute by Thornton, who spent much of Monday night and Tuesday morning weighing his options.
“I’d rather not be a distraction around here. I’d rather focus on getting ready for January 11, which is 12 days out now. I’m not going to lie to you, it wasn’t an easy decision,” Thornton said. “I’ve been thinking about it for the last 36 hours, not much sleep, but I feel for the team it’s probably the right thing to do I guess at this point, not going through the whole process again for a third time.”
Numerous players throughout the league reached out to Thornton during his suspension to offer their support. Among them was Sharks forward Raffi Torres, who has been suspended four times by the league and was banned for a total of 21 games for a postseason hit on Marian Hossa in the 2012 playoffs.
Yet perhaps the most encouraging words Thornton got were from Orpik himself, as the two have been friends and offseason workout partners over the years. Upon returning to practice, Orpik defended Thornton to reporters, saying, “I think he knew he made a mistake and regretted it right away.”
“Well we’ve known each other for a long time,” Thornton said. “I said right after the fact that the outcome was not what was intended and I felt awful about it. That hasn’t changed, and we’ve talked. We talked that night. We were still friends after the fact that night. Talking [to him], that helped me through this a little bit, for sure.”
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|Shawn Thornton suspended 15 games||12.14.13 at 2:17 pm ET|
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.
Thornton gets 15 games. #TSN
After unsuccessfully trying to fight Orpik to avenge a hit that left Loui Eriksson concussed, Thornton slew-footed and punched Orpik twice during a stoppage of play, knocking the Boston College product out and forcing him from the game in a stretcher. Orpik suffered a concussion but resumed skating Friday.
With three games already served, Thornton will miss the next 12 and be eligible to return Jan. 11 against the Sharks in San Jose. He will forfeit $84,615.45 in salary over the course of the suspension.
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|Shawn Thornton’s suspension to be announced Saturday||12.13.13 at 7:42 pm ET|
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.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety will announce on Saturday the length of the suspension to Boston F Shawn Thornton.
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.
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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|
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.
“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.”
|Loui Eriksson has concussion from Brooks Orpik hit, Chris Kelly also out for Bruins||12.07.13 at 10:38 pm ET|
The Bruins will be without three forwards for at least Sunday’s game against the Maple Leafs, as Loui Eriksson has a concussion, Shawn Thornton will not travel as he awaits his suspension and Chris Kelly is out with a lower-body injury.
Eriksson suffered his second concussion of the season in the first period Saturday on a hit from Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Thornton was later given a match penalty for attacking Orpik on the ice on a play after the whistle in which he threw Orpik to the ice and knocked him out with two punches to the head.
Kelly suffered a lower-body injury on a slash in the third period. Orpik, as you could probably guess, has a concussion.
“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” Claude Julien said. “As you know, Shawn’s got a hearing with [Brendan] Shanahan now, so he won’t travel with us to Toronto tomorrow and I don’t know what’s going to happen from there. At the same time, Loui’s not traveling with us either. He’s got a concussion, and the other guy we just found out at the end of the game, Kelly has suffered an injury from a slash and he won’t be traveling with us either.”
Julien was clearly upset with the actions of both teams, including Orpik’s hit on Eriksson.
“Those are unfortunate incidents when you see guys getting injured,” Julien said. “That’s called Eriksson. It’s also called Orpik.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma thought rather differently.
“Well I think the hit by Orpik is a good hockey hit. Eriksson touches the puck, the puck’s coming around the wall there, it does take a strange bounce, he does touch the puck, and it’s a good hit,” Bylsma said. “Clearly they took exception to it. They put people on the ice to take exception to it, and the events that ensued, you saw Thornton.”
In addition to inserting Jordan Caron into the lineup, the Bruins will have to recall two players from Providence. Mark Divver of the Providence Journal reported Saturday night that those players are Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser.
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.
Nearing tears in front of his locker stall in the Bruins locker room after Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Penguins, an emotionally shaken Shawn Thornton apologized for his first-period attack on Brooks Orpik in the first period that sent the Penguins defenseman to the hospital.
“Listen, I feel awful. It wasn’t my intention for that outcome,” Thornton said. “I know Brooksie. I’ve gotten to know him over the last several years here. I skated with him in the summer, over the lockout.”
Thornton said he sent Orpik multiple text messages to check on his condition after Thornton was ejected from the game for the hit.
“I’ve texted him a couple of times,” Thornton said. “I feel awful. It was definitely not what I wanted to see or anybody wanted to see.
“Obviously, I made a mistake. I’m aware of it. I’ve been told I’ll be having a hearing. It’s hard for me to say much more other than it was not my intention. I felt sick the whole game.”
Thornton was asked if he felt he was just protecting his teammates after Orpik took out Loui Eriksson and James Neal kneed Brad Marchand in the head earlier in the first period.
“That’s always my job, I guess, to defend my teammates but I’ve prided myself for a long time to stay within in the lines. It’s hard for me to talk about it right now. I can’t say I’m sorry enough. I’m sure I’ll be criticized for saying it but it’s true. I hope he’s doing all right. I heard he’s conscious and talking. I’m happy to hear that.”
Will it change how he plays in the future?
“I really don’t know how to answer that to tell you the truth. I haven’t had enough time to think about it.