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Shawn Thornton Suspended 15 Games for Incident with Brooks Orpik

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 3: Shawn Thornton #22 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the TD Garden on October 3, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/Getty Images
Tim DanielsFeatured Columnist IVDecember 30, 2016

Updates for Tuesday, Dec. 24

From NHL.com:

Commissioner Gary Bettman today upheld the 15-game suspension that was assessed to Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton by the Department of Player Safety for punching and injuring an unsuspecting opponent, Brooks Orpik of the Pittsburgh Penguins, in NHL Game No. 438 at Boston on Dec. 7.

 From NESN's Mike Cole:

Thornton has a week to appeal to neutral arbitrator. Would be the first player to do so.

— Mike Cole (@MikeColeNESN) December 24, 2013

From Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa:

Bettman notes Bertuzzi on Moore, Johnson on Beukeboom, and Hunter on Turgeon as comparable incidents.

— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) December 24, 2013

From Renaud Lavoie:

Gary Bettman said the fact that Thornton had no prior supplementary discipline is why the suspension is only 15 games.

— Renaud Lavoie (@LavoieRenaud) December 24, 2013

Bruins general manager Pete Chiarelli issued a statement after Bettman's ruling:

"We respect the process including the ability to attend the hearing with Commissioner Bettman in support of Shawn. At this time, we will decline comment until the process is complete and Shawn has exhausted all rights available to him."

 

Updates for Monday, Dec. 16

From the NHLPA on Twitter:

 

John Shannon of Sportsnet had more on the appeal:

Original Text

Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton has been suspended for 15 games by the National Hockey League for his attack on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik.

Darren Dreger of TSN passed along the league's decision.

Last week's incident saw Thornton go after Orpik following an active first period that saw the Penguins blueliner take down on Boston's Loui Eriksson. Thornton eventually sought out Orpik, dropped to the ice and delivered several strikes to the head.

Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe reports Orpik lost consciousness during the incident and was taken to the hospital after being stretchered off the ice. He was since placed on injured reserve while recovering from a concussion.

The attack was in response to Orpik’s hit on the Bruins’ Loui Eriksson, which took him out of the game just 21 seconds after it began. Orpik was removed from the ice on a stretcher after losing consciousness, went to the hospital, and was placed on injured reserve with a concussion.

After the game, Thornton was remorseful about his actions that led to the Orpik injury. While concussions are serious, it looked a lot worse at first glance when the defenseman fell to the ice.

Given all of the surrounding factors that occurred in the first 11 minutes of last week's game, Mike Salk of WEEI believes the suspension goes overboard.

Even though 15 games is undoubtedly severe punishment—more than 18 percent of the regular season—the league needs to send a message that these types of situations aren't acceptable. It can't have players attacking others from behind well after the whistle.

Thornton clearly understood after the game that he had made a mistake, but that wasn't enough to stop the NHL from coming down hard on him.

If a lengthy suspension is what it takes to eliminate those type of incidents, the league is sending a message that it's willing to hand them out.

 

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