On Saturday night, one of the most shameful events in recent hockey history occurred at the TD Garden. Shawn Thornton took matters into his own hands regarding a hit earlier in the game, by slew-footing Brooks Orpik, and then punching him in the face as he lay on the ground, knocking him out cold. The NHL was expected to face some tough criticism from sports media the next day, but the result was nowhere near what was expected.
You can view the video of the incident below.
What scares me most as a hockey player is the amount of disregard for safety shown by Thornton here. As a player, you are required to keep your emotions in check, as they could end up costing your team in the form of a penalty, or yourself in the form of a suspension. Deep down, there should be a moral law that prohibits you from behaving in such a violent manner.
Talk of a “Code” between hockey players is often referred to in situations such as these, but such a thing simply doesn’t exist. The fact is, that Thornton’s judgement was clouded by the hit that happened to his teammate earlier in the game, and he set out for revenge on the perpetrator, in this case, Orpik.
A very similar situation happened many moons ago, when Todd Bertuzzi effectively ended Steve Moore‘s career with a brutal hit from behind. Although Orpik is expected to make a full recovery, I find it hard to believe that Thornton or Bertuzzi are allowed to play another NHL game in their lifetime. In situations like these, I believe that the players that made the hit should be unavailable to return until the player they injured returns.
The NHL was very lucky that the hit did not get as much publicity as it deserved. In a game where there was a concussion, a broken ankle, and a five-game suspension all before Thornton’s fate has been heard, a game such as the one that took place on Saturday should make national headlines. It did just that in Canada, and that was what Sportscentre opened up with, but thankfully for the League, hockey’s dissapreciation in the US was evident as news of football and basketball came first. The very same thing happened on the Moore hit, as I have not seen it televised since the day after the hit happened.
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