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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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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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Loui Eriksson has concussion from Brooks Orpik hit, Chris Kelly also out for Bruins 12.07.13 at 10:38 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

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.

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Shawn Thornton will have hearing, ‘feels awful’ for hit on Brooks Orpik at 10:36 pm ET
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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.

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Shawn Thornton facing suspension after Brooks Orpik leaves on stretcher at 7:56 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton

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.”

On Saturday morning, Bruins coach Claude Julien addressed the subject of retaliation as it related to the Bruins opting to not go after Max Pacioretty Thursday night.

“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.”

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

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Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘I think everybody wants [fighting] in the game’ 12.04.13 at 9:49 am ET
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Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton

Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday for his weekly discussion, as the B’s prepare for a Thursday night game in Montreal against the Canadiens.

Thornton said players who join the Bruins should know how heated this rivalry can be before stepping onto the ice.

“You are expected to, but it probably took a game or three for me to actually really understand it,” he said. “Now I fully embrace it.”

Added Thornton: “You just get an appreciation for the deep-rooted history of hatred for each other. Being in that building and then coming into our building, there’s an energy level that you don’t really know about until you’re involved in it. I’m excited for our new guys to actually get a taste of it here.”

Despite the nastiness that sometimes has surrounded the rivalry, Thornton said he feels comfortable mingling with the locals while in the city.

“They’re very knowledgeable fans up there. They’re very passionate, obviously,” he said. “For the most part, they’re hockey fans. Even if they don’t like us, there might be some chirping and stuff, but no [more than that].”

There has been a movement to curtail fighting in hockey, but Thornton said he does not believe it will be banned from the game while he is playing.

“I think they want it in the game. I think everybody wants it in the game,” Thornton said. “But they’re kind of at a stage now with all the [concussion] stuff going on that the league’s been put in a position that they have to cover their own [butts] about it. I think that’s the biggest reason that you feel this sort of push towards I guess it being phased out a little. But I think it’s more about covering their own [butts] than anything else.”

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