One of the uglier incidents in hockey this season, if not the ugliest incident, came when Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton brutally knocked out Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman in a savage attack that no one seems to be condoning. Boston Bruins president Cam Neely has become the first person to get dangerously close to doing so as he publicly spoke out against the 15-game suspension Thornton was handed by the NHL for the attack.
Neely didn’t disagree that the incident was brutal or uncalled for but he objected to the length of the suspension that the NHL gave Thornton, saying that Bruins players have had severe concussions brought on by brutal hits as well but no suspensions were handed out then.
“We’ve had our fair share of players hurt badly by concussions,” Neely said, via ProHockeyTalk. “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.”
Neely, who comes from a different generation of hockey player, pointed to Pen’s star James Neal kneeing Brad Marchand in the head during the same game. Neal was handed a five game suspension by the NHL for his actions but Neely is saying it shows how excessive Thornton’s suspension is in comparison.
If we’re really comparing, Neal was wrong to knee Marchand in the head but Thornton slew-footing Orpik and then punching him out was nothing short of a savage attack that most are saying represents all that is wrong with hockey. That style may have flew when Neely was playing in the 80s, but with bigger bodies and stronger players today, assaults like Thornton’s have no place in the game.