The NHL has reportedly suspended James Neal of the Pittsburgh Penguins for five games for kneeing Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins in the head on Saturday. The knee set off a nasty sequence of events that eventually lead to Shawn Thornton hauling Brooks Orpik to the ice before punching him in the face twice.
While Thornton’s hearing won’t be until later on this week, Neal already has his conversation with Brendan Shanahan, and the league’s disciplinarian hit the forward with the maximum sentence available to players that aren’t given in-person talk.
Pittsburgh’s James Neal gets only five games for one of the more cowardly acts I’ve seen on ice in a while
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) December 9, 2013
This is a strong-hand move by Shanahan, who has drawn the ire of some fans around the NHL this season for taking it easy on players who deliberately go out of their way to injure another person out on the ice. He has several more incidents to review moving forward and if this is any indication, there could be some big suspensions coming.
Neal won’t be able to return to the lineup until December 19 against the Minnesota Wild. Here’s a look at the incident for the uninitiated.