Throw the Book at Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton has always been a passionate player and an intense one. He’s that kind of player that will defend his teammates at any cost. After last night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Thornton may have just taken that to a whole new level.

In the first period of the Bruins-Penguins game, there was an awful bit of action that led to the boiling point. First, Brooks Orpik threw his shoulder into Loui Eriksson’s head knocking him out of the game. Then there was James Neal who skated by Brad Marchand and threw his knee into Marchand’s head, leaving him on the ice for some time.

[See Also: Was James Neal Kneeing Marchand Intentional?]

Shortly after Neal’s hit on Marchand came the boiling point of the match. Thornton threw Brooks Orpik down to the ice and punched him while down, knocking him out.

I understand Thornton was trying to retaliate for Orpik’s hit on Eriksson, but there’s retaliation and then there’s, well, that. Sure Orpik’s hit was a bit high on Eriksson and James Neal should be suspended for his malicious actions on Marchand, but there is no need and no defense for what Thornton did.

Thornton’s hit on Orpik is very reminiscent to Todd Bertuzzi’s infamous hit on the former Avalanche player Steve Moore.

While Bertuzzi’s hit on Steve Moore was indeed worse due to Moore’s injuries that ended his NHL career, you can definitely see the similarities in the two. Both Bertuzzi and Thornton continued to pummel their opponents while they were seemingly unconscious on the ice. While Moore never did play again after Bertuzzi’s hit, Orpik has since been released from Mass General and will travel with the team. Orpik was very lucky that he wasn’t injured worse than he was.

Bertuzzi was suspended for twenty games, mainly due to the severity of Moore’s injuries, Thornton is looking at a lengthy suspension himself. While he will get nowhere near twenty games, Thornton will be looking at a multi-game suspension. Thornton has never been suspended during his entire NHL career, but that shouldn’t matter in a case like this. If an incident is abhorrent enough, it shouldn’t matter about prior record or what kind of player you are.

If Brendan Shanahan wants to make an example of these players, then he must throw the book at Shawn Thornton. James Neal isn’t innocent either. The league has to do something about Neal’s actions too. A player cannot just simply knee another person in the head. It is unacceptable and Neal must be punished for his boneheaded move on Marchand.

Just a few days ago on December 4th, Shawn Thornton spoke with ESPN’s Katie Strang on fighting in the league. Needless to say, Thornton is for fighting in the league. He says that whenever a player injures their head during a fight people get up in arms and want to abolish it. Well, Mr. Thornton, you are adding to your own problem with this debate.

Shawn Thornton is a great person off the ice contributing to charities in the Boston area and he’s been a great teammate for his Boston Bruins, but this is indefensible. No matter what kind of charity

Shawn Thornton on Orpic

(Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)

or whatever accomplishments he receives on the ice, his incident against Brooks Orpik is what people will remember most about him.

One quote Thornton made in the Strang article was about how proud he was in being more than just a fighter, saying,

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.

Unfortunately, that ugly night in Boston is what most people outside of Boston will remember you for the most. As being less than a fighter, but rather a thug.

What do you think the league should do with Shawn Thornton? Comment below or send me a Tweet, @MarkWGraham

 

Mark Wallace Graham

Mark Wallace Graham

Mark Wallace Graham has been a writer for TheHockeyWriters.com since March 2013. Growing up in New England, Boston Bruins hockey was in my blood. Follow me on Twitter, @MarkWGraham
Mark Wallace Graham

25 Comments

  1. If the puck doesn’t skip over Erickssons stick at the last second, Orpiks hit is hit of the week.Neal deserves 5 games, he needs to smarten up, he’s a bonafide sniper needs to act like it, even though I truly believe Marchand was faking his injury, because he’s a rat bastard. Thornton won’t get many games because he’s a Bruin. I really hate the B’s, they could take a step toward respectability, if the league would step up and suspend Thornton a proper amount.

  2. Pingback: Spectors Hockey | NHL Blog Beat – December 9, 2013.

  3. That game was a real pressure cooker!

  4. If that happened anywhere but on the ice, Thornton would be in cuffs and headed for the station! His intent was to cause serious bodily injury to Orpik period. In most English speaking places in the world what Thornton did was a criminal act.

    • No, it wasnt. Shut up, all you morons going after thronton. What he does everynight is a loyal mans job, which you tachnology addicts can never do. Go cry on your minecraft account, and let warriors like thornton be free.

      • Are you retarded? I suppose that a mob hitman is doing a “loyal (sic) mans job)? Perhaps you should look at what constitutes assault. Now, as much as I hate Shawn Thornton, he has always toed the line of what’s acceptable pretty well in the past. This is simply not the case in this instance, he should and will get a lengthy suspension. You sir, need a dictionary and perhaps brain surgery.

  5. Once again, out come the Bruins fans to defend nothing more than a thug mentality, that runs deep in the Bruins organization. One day the NHL should actually look at the way Boston plays and DO SOMETHING to stop it, before they break someones back again (with no call on the play I might add).

    • I’ve not seen Bruins fans defending this hit.

      • Just take a look on TSN or ANY of the other sites in the comments section. There are far more B’s fans defending this garbage than are against what happened. All they keep saying is the knee in the head to Marchand blah, blah, blah.

        • That’s your problem bud, stop looking at the TSN comment section, you might as well go to Youtube while you’re at it.

  6. That game was crazy! I’m very much disturbed by Thornton’s actions. Throwing a defenseless person to the ground and repeatedly hitting them when they were unresponsive not only crosses the line, it categorizes him as a monster. If the other penguins player didn’t grab thorton, he would have continued to hit orpik, potentially causing even more injuries. That is why his incident is light years worse than the Neal one. What Neal did was dirty and wrong, so he should get a 1 game suspension since March and wasn’t really hurt (he got up and was able to play). I believe these guys need to attend some anger management classes to provent incidents like this from happening in the future. Player safety is key because no one should want to see a players career ended too soon.

    • Sorry, it’s not right to pass any judgment or call for a certain number of games suspended based on the outcome of the incident. Neal deserves 5 games even though Marchand was ok (as far as we now, for now). Thornton deserves 20 games for this. I think most understand why he went after Orpik, but it’s inexcusable and he knows this himself.

      I do disagree that this will be what he’s most remembered for. He’s no Marty McSorley. He’s done so much good in and outside the game of hockey that this major mistake will be only part of the story.

      • I agree with your assessment of what the penalties should be but I disagree with how Thornton’s going to be remembered. He hasn’t done much on the ice to keep this from being exactly what he’s remembered for. Bertuzzi was a prominent member of the local charities too, guess what comes to mind every time he’s brought up. Not how nice he was to those sick kids that’s for sure.

  7. Orpik does not make contact with Eriksson’s head. Go watch the video again. Nearly every other writer has called Orpik’s hit clean.

  8. Orpik and Neal should be suspended. Thornton’s actions were indefensible — he dodged a bullet though– Orpik very well could have been seriously injured and it would have been equal to Bertuzzi. One day someone will die and fighting will finally be gone– unfortunate that it will take that but the game will be better when it’s gone. I’ll watch boxing if I want to see a fight-hockey fights suck! I’m Canadian and I’m embarrassed that the sport we all grew up with and love is the only one that allows fighting –it’s nothing more than tradition that it’s still part of the game- time to end this one.

  9. Bertuzzi wasn’t worse just because of the injuries. He punched Moore from behind and drove him into the ground face first, then continued to pummel him. Thornton threw Orpik down (landing on his back/side) and continued to punch him while he was on the ice. Still very very wrong, but he and Bertuzzi are in a totally different class, and it has nothing to do with the extent of the injury.

    • I’m not defending Todd Bertuzzi’s behaviour that night (it was as dirty and cowardly as Thornton’s behaviour towards Orpik), but for the record some of Steve Moore’s injuries were a result of some of his teammates jumping on top of him and Bertuzzi. Each time one of them landed, you could see that whole body mass slide with the impact. IMO, THAT is what caused Moore’s spinal injuries.

  10. The hit on Ericksson was not good, the James Neal knee/hit on Marchand should be more than a phone interview as well. I think Thornton gets 10-game suspension. Could be more, might be less. I feeling a 10-game suspension.

  11. As a Bruins fan I just want to say thank you for a very well written article with a fair assessment of the issue without any bias or witch hunting. Shawn is a great player but he made a very poor decision and he knows it. No way to defend this one, multi-game suspension and hope he can go back to being a clean hard working enforcer, like you said, no suspensions to date.

  12. Orpik’s hit on Ericksson was a “bit” high?? Orpik’s hit on Ericksson was a cheap-shot! His hit was not a good hockey hit and the Penguins coaches and players are all saying otherwise… that is total b.s. I’m not condoning Thorton’s retaliation against Orpik. However, Orpik (and Neal) should be suspended JUST AS long as Thorton.

    The NHL should not take away fighting, but rather bring down the gavel on dirty cheap shots.

    • Blatant Bruins fan is blatant. No legitimate hockey writer outside of Boston has called for Orpik to be suspended. He did not even hit Eriksson’s head.

    • Ericksson had his head down playing the puck. Orpik caught him shoulder to shoulder – didn’t get the head. How is that illegal?

    • You’re adorable… Orpik hit was during the course of play and it’s a hit that happens once a week in hockey. It was a hard shoulder to shoulder check on a player who was caught puck watching. At most it’s a two minute interference call and I don’t even think it was that due to the puck being within the vicinity. Neal on Marchand was stupid and he rightly got 5 games. Thornton on Orpik was straight up assault and he should sit half the season. Large gaps in all three of the situations and the punishment should reflect it as such.

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