When Shawn Thornton pulled Brooks Orpik down from behind and punched him in the head, there was no question that the offense was going to be suspendable. The question wasn’t whether or not the Boston Bruins forward would miss time or not, it was just a matter of how lengthy the suspension would be.
Brendan Shanahan chucked the book at Thornton. Over the last two seasons, the NHL’s version of a high school principal has handed out a long list of suspensions, but none of them have been longer than the one he gave Thornton. That fact isn’t lost on the player or the Bruins, and it seems that the team is prepared to fight Shanahan’s lengthy ban.
Stephen Harris of The Boston Herald quoted Thornton’s press release on the matter:
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.
Boston President Cam Neely wasn’t quite so reserved in his comments about the 15-game ban:
Higher than I expected and higher than I think is warranted… We’ve had our fair share of players hurt badly by concussions. 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. I feel bad personally for Thornton. I can speak to his time in Boston and he’s been a fair, honest player. This certainly wasn’t like him. He feels terrible about it. He knows it’s affected his reputation. He’s been a great teammate for a lot of years. I feel very bad for him.
It sounds like the organization is prepped to appeal the suspension that was leveled at Thornton. There’s no official word from the team yet, but the tone from the organization hasn’t been one of acceptance.