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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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Read More: Andy Brickley, Brooks Orpik, James Neal, Jarome Iginla
James Neal respects NHL’s decision to suspend him 12.10.13 at 2:59 pm ET
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James Neal was suspended five games. (AP)

James Neal was suspended five games. (AP)

Penguins forward James Neal said following Tuesday’s practice that he understands why the NHL suspended him five games for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head Saturday.

“Obviously, it’s not the smartest decision I’ve ever made,” Neal said. “I’m glad he’s OK. Going forward here, I need to learn from it. It’s something I can’t do, and I know that. I respect what the NHL’s done, but I’ve got to put it behind me and move forward here.”

Marchand was down on the ice after being tripped by Sidney Crosby, at which point Neal skated by, stuck out his left leg and hit Marchand in the head. The suspension is the third of Neal’s career.

It was at that whistle that the scrum between Brooks Orpik and Gregory Campbell, among others, took place and Shawn Thornton attacked Orpik with a slewfoot and two punches to the head. Orpik is out indefinitely with a concussion and has memory loss. Thornton’s in-person hearing with the league over the play is scheduled for Friday.

After the game, Neal had initially offered little about the play in which he hit Marchand, saying he hadn’t seen the replay. Marchand stayed in the game.

“I mean, what do you want me to say? That I was trying to hit him? No, I’€™m going by him, I don’€™t get out of the way like I said,” Neal said following the game. “I need to be more careful and I guess get my knee out of the way, but I’€™m not trying to hit him in the head or injure him or anything like that.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, James Neal,
Penguins’ James Neal suspended 5 games for knee to Brad Marchand’s head 12.09.13 at 1:18 pm ET
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Penguins forward James Neal was suspended five games by the league on Monday for delivering a knee to the head of Bruins forward Brad Marchand during Saturday’s game at TD Garden.

Marchand was getting up after being knocked to the ice when Neal delivered his cheap shot. Neal claimed after the game that the hit was not intentional despite video evidence that made it apparent he went out of his way to contact Marchand.

“While Neal does not kick or violently thrust his leg toward Marchand, it is our belief after reviewing this incident that this is more serious than simply not avoiding contact with a fallen player,” NHL directory of player safety director Brendan Shanahan explained in a video review of the incident. “While looking down directly at Marchand, Neal turns his skates and extends his left leg, ensuring that contact is made with Marchand’s head.”

The suspension will cost Neal $128,205.15 in lost salary, which will be donated to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Read More: Brad Marchand, James Neal,
James Neal has phone hearing for kneeing Brad Marchand in head 12.07.13 at 11:25 pm ET
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James Neal will likely be suspended. (AP)

James Neal will likely be suspended. (AP)

Shawn Thornton isn’t the only player who figures to be suspended for their actions in Saturday night’s game between the Bruins and Penguins, as Penguins forward James Neal will have a phone hearing for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head.

Because it’s a phone hearing, any suspension for Neal will be five or less games. Thornton’s is in person, which would allow the league to suspend him for more than five games.

Marchand had fallen to the ice after some stick work from Sidney Crosby, at which point Neal glided by and stuck out his left leg to hit him in the head.

“I was skating by him. I haven’t like seen the replay or anything so I mean I hit him in the head with my leg or my foot or my knee or shin area I don’t know,” Neal said after the game. “But I mean, he’s already going down and I guess I need to try to avoid him, but I have to look at it again. I haven’t gotten a chance to look at it.”

Asked if he intended to hit him in the head, Neal, who has twice been suspended by the league, denied it.

“I mean, what do you want me to say? That I was trying to hit him? No, I’m going by him, I don’t get out of the way like I said,” he said. “I need to be more careful and I guess get my knee out of the way, but I’m not trying to hit him in the head or injure him or anything like that.”

Marchand was clearly told by the Bruins to not divulge his thoughts on the situation. Asked whether he saw the replay, Marchand happily and confidently replied, “no.” He gave the same response when asked if he had an opinion on the play.

“I can’t comment on this, guys,” Marchand said after a few questions. “I know you guys can tell I can’t comment. You know I want to, but I can’t.”

Marchand didn’t even honestly shed light on Crosby’s role in the play.

“I think I just tripped myself,” he said. “Tough skates today. Two left feet.”

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma admitted that the play could have been avoided.

“It was a sequence there where I think Marchand and Sid were in it physically,” Bylsma said. “Marchand went down as Neal was skating by, and he didn’t really make an attempt to get out of the way on Marchand.”

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

Read More: Brad Marchand, James Neal, Sidney Crosby,
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