|No priors needed: Shawn Thornton’s attack deserved lengthy ban||12.14.13 at 5:23 pm ET|
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.
‘ Mike Salk (@SalkWEEI) December 14, 2013
‘ Corey Heaward (@cheaward) December 14, 2013
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 ‘But 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.
‘This 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.
|Shawn Thornton suspended 15 games||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.
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.”
“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.”
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