Dec 15 2013, 9:52pm CST | by Poch de la Rosa
This was announced by no less than the Department of Player Safety on the NHL's official website on Dec. 14:
"Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton has been suspended for 15 games, without pay, for punching an unsuspecting opponent, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orbik, and causing a serious injury during NHL Game No. 438 in Boston on Saturday, Dec. 7, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.
"The incident occurred at 11:06 of the first period. Thornton was assessed a match penalty for violating NHL Rule 46.15.
"Under the rules of the Collecting Bargaining Agreement, and, based on his average annual salary, Thorton will forefeit $84,615.45. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund."
According to Bruins Daily's Tim Rosenthal, Orpik delivered a strong hit near the head area of the Bruins' Loui Errikson, who skated off the ice with a concussion as a result. Thornton then unleashed several blows of his own on Orpik, with the second one with Orpik down on the ice knocking him unconscious.
He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and spent the night at Mass General Hospital, per Rosenthal.
NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan spoke with ESPN Boston, which confirms the suspension is the Bruins forward's first-ever, and promptly labeled Thornton's action as "an act of retribution."
"This cannot be described as a hockey play that went bad, or do we consider this a spontaneous reaction to an incident that just occurred. It is our view that his was an act of retribution earlier in the game, the result of this action by Thornton was a serious injury to Orpik."
With these, Thornton released a statement on the Bruins' official website on the same day:
"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 same update also featured a comment from Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli:
"We respect the process including the ability to attend and present our case in person. At this time, we will decline comment until the process is complete and Shawn has exhausted all rights available to him."
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun spoke with Thornton's agent Anton Thun, who said they will use the next few days to decide whether they will file an appeal or not.
On the other hand, ESPN also spoke with both Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero, with the two men concluding the league is sending a strong message with the 15-game suspension.
Shero, in particular, maintained Shanahan's verdict says it all.
"I honestly don't think it's my position to say it's fair or not. I think the message was sent by Brendan Shanahan. What I saw, that's the longest suspensio he's given out in the regular season. I guess that is a message being sent."
When Thornton spoke with Rosenthal in the wake of the unfortunate incident on Dec. 7, he was remorseful.
"I feel awful. It wasn't my intention for that outcome. I've known Brooksie. I got to know him over the last seven years here. I skated with him in the summer and through the lockout.
"Obviously, I made a mistake. I feel awful. I felt sick all game."
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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