Thornton Sucker Punch Part Of Bigger Problem

I may be in the minority, in fact I know I am. I watch a lot of hockey. My favorite sport is treated like a redheaded step child south of Ontario. America’s coverage of the NHL has been relegated to the opinions of Mike Milbury and tweets from John Buccigross. Ratings wise, and according to this chart, the NHL falls behind the NFL, NBA, NCAA football, NASCAR, Golf and even horse racing.

What do you think about when I say Boston and Pittsburgh? It’s probably the Red Sox, terrible diction and yellow bridges. Not the Bruins and Penguins, but since you’re reading this, your hockey knowledge is probably better than Mike Milbury’s and you probably already know what happened on Saturday night.

The National Hockey League had another rough night in terms of goonery and player safety. Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik had to be taken to the hospital after Boston’s Shawn Thornton pulled him down to the ice and punched him twice in the head during a stopping of play in the first period of Saturday’s game at TD Garden. 

Thornton took liberties after Orpik laid out Louie Eriksson during the first shift of the game,  a borderline hit to say the least. The donnybrook ensued after Orpik refused to fight Thornton after a filthy James Neal kneecap to Brad Marchand’s head.

So, to recap:

1. Orpik smokes Eriksson.








2. Neal Knees Marchand’s head.








3. Thornton punches Orpik in the head.








Where is the respect? So much hot air from the talking heads and players alike about a “code.” Apparently Neal never got the memo from Sid about this “code.” Unless it calls for knees to the head on the way to the bench. There needs to be a respect factor among members of the NHLPA. A players association that seemed to respect one another during last years lockout, but chooses to leave it with Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman when they returned to the ice. The lack of respect has even permeated junior hockey. That play alone shows why fighting still exists in the game.

There is nothing scarier as a fan than to see a motionless player on the ice. Opening night reminded us of that fact.  This is where I’m conflicted, as an avid hockey fan I’m stuck between the hockey purists who say fighting is a necessity and former NHL enforcer Jim Thomson, who says, “there’s no need for it.”

Thornton did have justification going after Orpik. Unfortunately, it was the worst possible outcome. After the game Thorton expressed his dismay.

“It’s hard for me to talk about right now. I can’t say I’m sorry enough. I’m sure I’ll be criticized, but it’s true,” said  Thornton. “I felt awful. It wasn’t my intention. I know Brooksie.”

Unsolicited fights are one of the most exciting aspects of hockey but the cheap shots have to go.

Michael Mazzuto

Michael Mazzuto

A former patriot living amongst civilians. Detractors need not apply. Sometimes I have things to say, so I write it down. Holler in my vicinity @_MMazz, but not too loud.
Michael Mazzuto
Michael Mazzuto

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