The Department of Player Safety has determined that the Shawn Thornton’s assault on Brooks Orpik was so heineous in nature that it required a fifteen game suspension. Yes, it was pretty bad in the level of direct ferocity that Thornton brought. We knew it was going to be a double digit one. Frankly, Thornton deserved it for a blatant loss of control. I don’t think we were expecting fifteen though. (I had argued ten until the DoPS decided to sit on it another day.)
The Bruins organization is disappointed in the decision. “Higher than I expected and higher than I think is warranted,” offered Bruins President Cam Neely on the Thornton suspension. “We’ve had our fair share of players hurt badly by concussions,” Neely added. “I don’t think anyone’s gotten a 15-game suspension out of those. Thornton is a guy who plays the role he plays and has never had any suspensions or issues. It comes down a little harsh for me.”
Let’s take a look at Cam Neely’s opinion. We need to take a look at the two concussions sustained by Loui Eriksson. The first one, which was clearly dirty and committed by repeat offender John Scott earned him a seven game benching. The second one, committed by (surprise here) Brooks Orpik was deemed to be a perfectly clean hit and not worthy of supplementary discipline. While I can see the point of the penalty being questioned, if we’re sending a message that certain teams can engage in a woefully dangerous manner, than the DoPS isn’t doing it’s job. How about James Neal got for nailing Brad Marchand in the head, eh?
On a side note, it’s great to see that deliberately targeting a player in the head, and then lying about it only gets you a five game suspension. Here’s how the Penguins saw the suspension.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 14, 2013
Makes you wonder how strong they’ll agree with the message after Deryk Engelland was ejected for a deemed to be illegal hit on Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings. Will they believe it’s a strong message if he gets five (or more)? If the number of suspended games for head hits increases, I can live with this call. If they don’t, then I’d say the Department of Player Safety is failing at their job for equal and fair enforcement of the rules.