UPDATE: The decision is in and Thorton’s suspension stands at 15 games.
Shawn Thornton has been doling out punishment all over the NHL for just over 10 seasons and, this time, it’s the NHL that will be handing out a punishment to him. The Bruins enforcer met in-person yesterday with NHL disciplinary officials and it was determined that Brendan Shanahan needed more time and it will be announced today.
The NHL’s board of commissioners just ended two days worth of meetings in California where they discussed, first and foremost, player safety. Player safety is on the forefront of their mind and that might not be good for Thornton.
“The more than 50,000 hits the (NHL) league’s statisticians record every year,” said Shanahan after the meetings in Pebble Beach California. “fewer than 100 of those need review.”
Of course, one that needed review was Thornton and with that message so fresh in Shanahan’s mind, the ruling could be harsher than ordinary. Some other factors, that actually help Thornton, are:
Thornton has never been suspended by the league before for a dirty hit. The Bruins enforcer has played 10 years in the league and has yet to be suspended for that? I feel like that is in his corner and that lack of a history will help him get fewer games.
The fact that Shanahan took the day to review the hearing seems, to me, to be a good thing in Thornton’s case. It’s easy for officials to rush to judgment and you see it all the time in the NFL and MLB. The league’s officials suspend players, but the players appeal and generally reduce the penalties.
Brooks Orpik, who Thornton tripped and then beat to a concussion, skated yesterday with his team and that will help Thornton’s case. The fact that Orpik is up and skating around makes the injury seem less severe and should in turn make the penalty less severe.
I don’t see Thornton getting more than 7-10 games for his actions, but that’s obviously a speculation as nothing has been announced as of yet. The Bruins need Thornton and based on Thornton’s comments saying he “feels sick” about the hit, he’s learned he can’t let the moment get the better of him.