Well the Department of player safety finally handed out their decision on the Shawn Thorton/Brooks Orpik suspension. If you have been hiding under a rock in the hockey world, vision of the incident with Shanahan's explanation of how he came to the 15 games he gave for Thornton is below:
This decision was always going to be a tough one for the department, it is the first non-hockey play they have had to assess since Shanahan has taken over the roll. It is the same here for us at Hockey Hurts, with the suspension system we created it has always been based around a 'hockey play' or 'in game' action. This one with Thornton was going to be difficult to assess. I didn't want to assess this on the day for a couple of reasons. One I am a Penguins fan, and to be honest was very angry at the whole game, the James Neal knee, the loss, and the way so many people blamed Orpik for what happened to him for not fighting (that is a whole other argument for another day)
So I thought I would wait it out until the NHL made their decision and see how it stacks up against our metric chart. There are two tables for this one, and it all comes down to perspective. The first chart is if you take Thornton at his word, that he didn't want to hurt Orpik as he did, he just wanted Orpik to pay for his hit or Eriksson.
If you take Thornton's testimony into account, he was reckless in his actions in taking down Orpik with a slew foot and he hit Orpik flush on the face with a gloved hand. The gloved hand is why I don't give extreme impact in this chart, its contentious that is for sure, but we all know Thornton had time to take off his glove and hit Orpik flush on the jaw, but he didnt.
Seeing as this is Thornton's first trip through the suspension wringer, his total points are under 1000 and he would get 10 games. If you look at what James Neal got for his knee on Marchand (30 games from us), you might say that the system has gone 'soft' or 'old school' in the amount of games given for the incident. However Neal has a history of suspendable plays and deserved much more than the 5 games the NHL delivered.
This is working under the assumption that Thornton was out for blood and was out to injury Orpik any way he can. The slew foot and then punching a defenceless man on the ice would suggest that is definitely a possibility. In doing so, Thornton misses 20 games and a quarter of the season.
To be honest I am not sure how the NHL is supposed to handle incidences like these, this system is far from fallible and it needs refining which I will do at the end of the year and re do all of these and see where we are at.
What 'saves' Thornton from getting more games is his clean record, not one prior conviction, we try to punish repeat offenders quite harshly here at Hockey Hurts, the Clarkson article just posted by Ryan is a great example of that.
It's pretty obvious that the 'code' and players having 'respect' for each other doesn't exist anymore, the only way the league is going to remove a lot of these suspendable plays is to hurt teams and players by missing games, and thus for the players, their hip pocket
To be honest I think Thornton had a brain snap, got caught up in the moment. He knows his role and I have no doubt Julien made sure Thornton knew Orpik had to pay, many in the media have been asking if coaches should have to pay for putting a player on the ice in certain situations, this may have been one of them.
As for the suspension by the NHL I think they have got it right, 15 games is kind of right in the middle of the two results we have, so call it a half assed compromise if you like, the only issue with the way the NHL delivers it's suspensions is it has now set a standard for this kind of incident so 15 games will be the max for the rest of the season if anything this crazy happens again.
Lets hope it doesn't.
Thanks for reading.