I am fan of the Merlot Men. They are good players, individuals of strong character, and men who make a solid difference in their community. Shawn Thornton has made himself a member of the Charlestown, and is a fixture in Boston. He’s honest, decent, and a player who plays by the rules. What follows in no way diminishes what I think about Shawn Thornton attacking Brooks Oprik.
Most of us are moral people. We try to do the right thing 99% of the time. Moral people have limits. Good men in crisis situations will go off character if enough pressure is applied. Shawn Thornton watched his teammate Loui Eriksson go down in the first twenty seconds of the game by a hit from Oprik. The hit(according most of the major sports personalities) was considered to be questionable. Some Bruins fans say it was filthy, some Penguins fans say it was clean. That was a rough start to a game where the kid gloves were off from the first puck drop. Later in the period James Neal gave Brad Marchand a deliberate knee to the head. I’m sure the kinesiologists amongst us saw the knee movement. The hips moved in to position to deliver the blow. It was a directed strike
Two players hurt. Two Bruins down. Oprik got off clean for his hit on Eriksson(who has now suffered his second concussion within the last month). Neal receiving two minutes for what should have been a major for unsportsmanlike conduct. (Neal is facing his own inquiry by the Department of Player Safety for that hit.) Shawn Thornton boiled over in a moment of rage where his gonads chose to take command of his fists and act. It was violent, it was uncalled for, and it was dirty. Thornton knocked Oprik unconscious and had to be taken to the hospital for evaluation. (Oprik was allowed to travel with his team, and appears to have suffered no long term injury.)
For those of you who would like to call the Bruins a bunch of brawling classless players (especially amongst the fans of the Penguins), I would like to ask you which member of the Penguins organization helped get Oprik off the ice. If you’re own rage has stalled your senses, let me remind you now. No Penguins player went out there to aid their comrade, their teammate, their friend. Of all the players on the ice, it was Patrice Bergeron who helped get Oprik off the ice. So, the next time you wish to comment on the ‘class level’ of a team, reflect on the team’s action as a whole. (Or revel in your hypocrisy, it’s a free internet.)
Shawn Thornton deserves to be suspended for his actions. (My guess is it will between five and ten games, and Thornton (being the man he his)will not appeal it.)He knows its coming, and so does the team. I have seen Shawn Thornton happy, furious, and every shade in between covering the Bruins these last few seasons. Until tonight, I have never seen him ashamed before. The man looked like he was close to vomiting on the reporters.
We’re all human beings. We have those moments where things go wrong and we follow those things to a very nasty conclusion. Thornton got a very ugly life lesson tonight. The sad thing in all this is there are ‘hockey fans’ who will do nothing but concentrate on this one act for the remainder of his career. Shawn Thornton is still a good and honorable man, and one act of reckless anger will not end my respect for the man.