Shawn Thornton’s suspension had to be upheld by the NHL.They really didn’t have a choice. The NHL has been preaching player safety ever since Brendan Shanahan was put in charge. Thornton went out of his way to wrestle Brooks Orpik to the ground. The only part of the suspension that I don’t agree with is the fact that James Neal committed a penalty just as egregious in the same game.
Neal only received a five-game suspension for kneeing Brad Marchand. Kneeing someone in hockey is the equivalent of stabbing someone on the street. You just don’t do it. The league should have set an example with Neal and set a precedent. The kneeing penalty should have carried at least a 10-game suspension. Neal went out of his way to make contact with Marchand, the same way that Thornton went out of his way to punish Orpik.
The NHL needs to be very careful how they assess penalties and how they hand out suspensions. I understand that the Thornton play was egregious, reckless and as an aging veteran, he should have known better. I also understand that kneeing can ruin careers, cause permanent damage and is just as egregious as horse collaring someone from behind.
The NHL got the Thornton suspension correct. They also did the right thing by not reducing it, do to the nature of the incident. However, the league should be ashamed of itself for how it has handled other situations such as the Neal knee.