During the December 7th game Thornton tried lure Orpik into a fight. When Orpik refused, Thornton attacked Orpik and injured him. Orpik suffered a concussion from the attack and is still injured. Thornton has never received a suspension before.
So what do I think of the suspension? It's a decent start but doesn't go far enough. When it comes to incidents that can seriously injure players, I believe the book needs to be thrown at them. I think that a player should be punished severely regardless if it's the player's first brush with the NHL law. That's why I think this was a good start.
Thornton didn't have to be a repeat offender to receive a large ban and that's the right approach. I don't think this suspension is enough. So what is the right suspension? I've said this before and I'll repeat it now. If a player injures another player because of an illegal or dirty play, the offending player should receive a minimum of 50 games or be suspended for as long as the injured player is injured. That's for a first offense.
Under this approach, if an injured player is forced out of the game permanently, the offending player is as well. I think that would send a message to goons and dirty players. I don't consider Thornton dirty but what he did to Orpik was and 15 games is not enough to send NHL players a message that dangerous and illegal play (against NHL rules) will not be tolerated.
NHL players don't seem to respect each other. We continuously see players checking players from behind into the boards or hitting them in the head. The NHL needs to come down hard on these disgusting thugs.
So what would I do if a suspended re-offended? I would ban that player for life. It would be obvious to me that the offending and offensive player hasn't learned anything and is a menace to the game. That player should be considered a dangerous goon who can't be trusted to play the game within the rules. That type of player doesn't belong in the game.
I think we see far too few of the types of suspensions that Thornton received today being handed out by the NHL. Hopefully this is a start of the NHL starting to get tough with players who play dirty.
I sure hope that the NHL doesn't wait until a player is killed on the ice due to dirty play by an opponent. I do think that will happen and then the NHL will be forced into reaction mode. Players need to lose big time if they act like misfits, gangsters and goons. Players like that don't belong in the game.
Thornton's first suspension is an extremely lengthy one by NHL standards but he deserves it. I would have been happier with a 25 game ban and really happy with a 50 game ban.
Now the NHL has to be consistent. If this type of disgusting incident occurs again, the NHL must react in a similar fashion. They should actually hand out an even lengthier suspension to the one handed out today.
Article source: ESPN.com.