It looks like everybody – the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Boston Bruins, Shawn Thornton, Brooks Orpik and the entire NHL world – will have to wait until tomorrow for a final decision on the Boston enforcer’s suspension.
Several league sources indicated to CSNNE.com that it will be “almost certainly tomorrow” that the NHL Department of Player Safety comes down with a decision for Thornton slew-footing Orpik from behind, and knocking him unconscious on the ice with a pair of punches to the head. Shanahan clearly wants to put the appropriate time and thought into an important decision with regard to policing violence in the NHL world.
Orpik was back on the ice skating with his injured teammates for the first time on Friday morning. Orpik has been out since Saturday night when he suffered a concussion after getting yanked down from behind and battered by Shawn Thornton when he was already down on the ice.
Orpik was skating with Tanner Glass and Rob Scuderi prior to the Penguins morning skate at CONSOL Energy Center, and continues an encouraging string of news about his concussion recovery that began with him able to fly home with Pittsburgh following the loss to the Bruins.
There is no timetable on Orpik’s return to the lineup, but Friday was a good step for him.
Thornton was undoubtedly happy to get the hearing with NHL Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan and the league over with on Friday afternoon, and start moving on from an incident that’s put a little tarnish on a clean, honest 11-year body of work as an NHL enforcer.
The expectation in this corner is Thornton will get a 10-game suspension based on his previously clean hockey record, Orpik’s encouraging recovery from what would be termed a less severe concussion and the inescapable truth that the NHL will have to deal out harsh justice for an incident that simply can’t happen in NHL hockey games anymore.
Mix that all together and you get a decision for far fewer games than the deservedly stuff punishments handed out to players like Chris Simon, Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley, but more appropriate for this incident given both the circumstances behind it, and the relatively minor aftermath of the ugly attack.
Thornton has already missed three games vs. the Leafs, Flames and Oilers that will count as time served toward suspension he earns from the NHL on Saturday.