Thornton was suspended until mid-January for his actions in last week’s game against Pittsburgh. The Bruins forward attacked Brooks Orpik after the Penguins defenseman refused to fight him shortly after laying out Loui Eriksson with a big hit in the game’s opening seconds.
Thornton’s 15-game ban, one of the biggest the league recently has given out, doesn’t appear to be sitting too well with the Bruins. While there’s no debating that Thornton should have been disciplined, team president Cam Neely believes the league went a little far.
Neely’s rationale appears based partly by the fact that Penguins forward James Neal was suspended just five games for kneeing Bruins forward Brad Marchand in the same game. Marchand wasn’t injured on the play, and Thornton left Orpik concussed after knocking him out.
“Higher than I expected and higher than I think is warranted,” Neely told the Boston Herald when asked about a 15-game suspension for Thornton. “It was ugly the way it played out. But, if Marchand gets hurt, is it 15 games for a knee to the head? We’ve had our fair share of players hurt badly by concussions. I don’t think anyone’s gotten a 15-game suspension out of those. Thornton is a guy who plays the role he plays and has never had any suspensions or issues. It comes down a little harsh for me.”
Neely’s comments to the Herald came before the suspension was made official. Thornton and Bruins issued an official statement after the announcement was made in which they essentially declined comment about the league’s decision.