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Shawn Thornton to appeal 15-game suspension 12.16.13 at 4:17 pm ET
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According to a league source, Bruins forward Shawn Thornton has decided to appeal the 15-game suspension that he was assessed Saturday for his attack on Brooks Orpik of the Penguins.

In the new collective bargaining agreement, players are allowed to appeal suspensions, first to commissioner Gary Bettman and then with a neutral arbitrator. Thornton is the second player to appeal a suspension, as Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta appealed his 10-game suspension earlier this season and was denied by the commissioner. He did not take it to a neutral arbitrator.

Thornton has not played the last four games and is set to sit out the next 11 before being eligible to return Jan. 11 against the Sharks in San Jose. He practiced with the Bruins Monday.

The Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy was the first to report the appeal, with the NHLPA since announcing the appeal.

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Shawn Thornton, Adam McQuaid practice with Bruins; Jarome Iginla absent at 10:57 am ET
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WILMINGTON — The Bruins returned to practice Monday after returning from a four-game Canadian road trip. Shawn Thornton, who has until 4 pm Monday to appeal his 15-game suspension, was on the ice.

Also present was forward Craig Cunningham, who appears to have been called up from Providence.

Adam McQuaid, who has not played since Nov. 30 with a lower-body injury, was on the ice for the B’s. Jarome Iginla, who suffered a hand injury Saturday but stayed in the game, did not practice. Injured Bruins Dougie Hamilton (lower-body, Loui Eriksson (concussion), Chris Kelly (lower-body) and Daniel Paille (upper-body) were also absent.

The lines were as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Fraser
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Soderberg – Spooner – Johnson
Caron – Campbell – Cunningham/Thornton

Defensemen: Matt Bartkowski, Adam McQuaid, Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, Johnny Boychuk, Torey Krug Dennis Seidenberg

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Shawn Thornton consulting with Bruins, NHLPA about ‘next steps’ 12.14.13 at 6:18 pm ET
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Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said the following in a statement released by the team following the announcement of his 15-game suspension Saturday:

“I am aware of today’s ruling by the NHL Department of Player Safety. I will be consulting with the Bruins, my representation and the NHLPA about next steps, and will be in a position to address the matter publicly after speaking with those parties. Until then I will have no further comment.”

The “next steps” to which Thornton refers is the option of appealing the suspension. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, players can appeal suspensions that are for more than six games. Such appeals first go to the commissioner, and then to a neutral arbitrator. Players have 48 hours after their ruling to appeal.

If Thornton is to appeal the suspension, he will be the second player to do so this season. Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta appealed his 10-game suspension in October but did not take it any further after after his ban was upheld by Gary Bettman.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli also offered a statement on the suspension, though he had little to say.

“We respect the process including the ability to attend and present our case in person,” Chiarelli said. “At this time, we will decline comment until the process is complete and Shawn has exhausted all rights available to him.”

Under Thornton’s 15-game suspension, of which he has served three games already, he is currently in line to be eligible to return to the Bruins lineup on Jan. 11 in San Jose.

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

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No priors needed: Shawn Thornton’s attack deserved lengthy ban at 5:23 pm ET
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Shawn Thornton was suspended 15 games for attacking Brooks Orpik.

Think what you want to think about it, but as you form your opinion, don’€™t forget that the punishment was over that act. By Brendan Shanahan giving Thornton 15 games (the longest regular-season Shanaban to date), he was saying that Thornton’s actions were worth a 15-game suspension.

[Yup, that lede just said the same thing three times. Hopefully one of them took.]

The ban was greeted with fans and media taking umbrage with the fact that a suspension of that length was given to clean a player who had never been suspended previously.

 

We all know what kind of a player Thornton is and that he’s as big a class act as any Boston athlete. We also know that whether a player is a repeat offender (meaning they’ve been suspended within the last 18 months, according to the league) is considered in these things, but does being a clean player mean Thornton’s deplorable actions last Saturday shouldn’t be treated as seriously as they were?

Thornton isn’t a dirty player, but watch the incident on its own and remember that Shanahan’s job was to give a suspension based on what happened between the whistles in the first period of that game. Fight that urge to say ‘€œBut James Neal…’€ and watch the video.

It was really, really, bad.

Not that you care, but the reaction here? Admittedly, it was more than I expected — when I saw it live, I thought it was worth at least 10, then I settled at 10 — but then again we haven’t seen many incidents with comparable circumstances and outcomes as what happened last Saturday. If you thought a double-digit suspension was deserved, it’€™s hard to be outraged by 15.

Track record is something that can be of obvious benefit when determining whether a player deserves to be punished for a hit. If a player is known for cheap shots, they shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt on a borderline dirty play.

Yet the incident for which Thornton was punished wasn’t one based on a matter of split seconds, the principal point of contact or whether somebody turned. It was as black and white as it gets. It was somebody at a stoppage of play going up behind another player, kicking their feet out from under them and punching them in the head repeatedly, including when the victim was down. There’s no question of how it happened or what the intent was.

‘€œThis cannot be described as a hockey play that went bad, nor can we consider this a spontaneous reaction to an incident that just occurred,’€ Shanahan said in the video explaining the suspension.

Fifteen games is a long time. It’€™s three times what Neal got for sticking his leg out and kneeing Brad Marchand in the head. That’€™s a tough pill to swallow for Bruins fans, and it should be. Neal deserved more than a phone hearing, and considering he’€™d been suspended twice before, five games was light.

It’€™s easy to get distracted when forming an opinion over the Thornton incident. The fact that he’€™s a clean player, the fact that he was responding to a hit he didn’€™t like and the fact that Neal wasn’€™t properly punished cloud things, but don’€™t forget that the reason Thornton’€™ won’€™t be playing until Jan. 11 is because of his attack on Orpik.

Being a good guy or a clean player doesn’€™t make it any better or any worse. Thornton’€™s actions were deserving of a big punishment and that’€™s what they got.

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Shawn Thornton suspended 15 games 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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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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