New York, NY, United States (4E Sports) – The NHL has slapped Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton with a 15-game suspension for attacking Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik during a Dec. 7 game at TD Garden.
The suspension is the first for Thornton, who, by rule, has missed the Bruins’ past three games while he awaited Friday’s disciplinary hearing with the NHL because he was assessed a match penalty for the incident.
Originally, Thornton attempted to get Orpik to drop the gloves after his hit on Loui Eriksson resulted in a concussion. However, Orpik did not oblige.
During a stoppage in play at 11:06 of the first period, Thornton grabbed Orpik from behind, slew-footing him to the ice and punching him twice in the head. Orpik suffered a concussion and was taken off the ice on a stretcher and transported to the hospital.
Orpik was released shortly after and cleared to return with the team to Pittsburgh, but he says he does not remember anything from the game. He was placed on injured reserve.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Orpik was on the ice Friday for light exercise but is still suffering from concussion symptoms.
In his postgame comments following the incident, Thornton expressed regret for his actions, saying he “felt sick” about what he did.
“It’s hard for me to talk about right now. I can’t say I’m sorry enough,” Thornton said. “I’m sure I’ll be criticized, but it’s true. I felt awful. It wasn’t my intention. I know Brooksie.”
“I’ve gotten to know him the last seven years here. I skated with him during the lockout. I texted him a couple of times. It’s not what I wanted to see or anyone to see,” he added.