Skip to content

Shawn Thornton: ‘People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable’

Dec 7, 2013, 8:51 PM EDT

Colorado Avalanche v Boston Bruins Getty Images

Boston Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton could be facing a lengthy suspension after an ugly incident that resulted in Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik being taken off the ice on a stretcher Saturday.

Thornton took down Orpik, then delivered punches to the blue liner while he was on the ice. Members of the Penguins’ training staff were immediately summoned onto the ice, as was the stretcher. Thornton received a match penalty.

Thornton had earlier challenged Orpik to a fight, after Orpik caught Loui Eriksson with an open-ice hit on the first shift the game. Eriksson also left the game and will not return.

Thornton, 36, has been in the NHL since the 2002-03 season, breaking into the league with the Chicago Blackhawks. His role over the years has been simple: Use his size to be a physical presence and fight when the opportunity arises.

He recently spoke out in favor of fighting, while a debate about whether that element should be taken out of the game rages on.

“I don’t know the numbers so I probably shouldn’t [say] but I think a lot more concussions are happening from head hits than fighting, but any time anyone gets punched in the face and gets hurt, people jump all over it,” he recently told Katie Strang of ESPN.

“I think there’s an agenda. I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I won’t say it’s changing the tide, but I think there’s definitely more of an agenda nowadays.

“People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable, I suppose, in some instances. I’ve been a firm believer my whole life that what goes around comes around.

“If you’re one of those guys that suckers someone when they’re down or you go after somebody that doesn’t deserve it or isn’t the same category as you, that will come back and bite you at some point, too.”

  1. alicesrightfootesq - Dec 7, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    This is the type of player fighting fans can’t live without? So embarrassed as a fan right now.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:26 PM

      If Orpik mans up and fights Thornton when he was challened there’s probably no Neal knee and definitely no Thornton cheap shot. This is a great example of why the instigator rule is garbage.

      • kale42 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:29 PM

        Orpik has no obligation to fight in that instance though, you’re able to hit in hockey

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:34 PM

        True, but he’s a big boy and it’s the start of the game. Why not drop the gloves? His team probably would have gotten a PP out of it.

      • drone501 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:46 PM

        hey moron. maybe orpik realizes that his team is down to 5 healthy defensmen. think before you type.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:48 PM

        I’m not a Pens fan (thankfully) so I didn’t know that. Stay classy.

      • bruininnh1984 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:56 PM

        maybe orpik should have thought of that before he hit eriksson high

      • joey4id - Dec 8, 2013 at 8:32 AM

        really. Orpik should have not hit Ericksson because the Pens were down a couple of d men. Maybe Ericksson shouldn’t be hovering near the blue line looking behind him. Every d men would have made that hit.,

  2. Stiller43 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    This guys human garbage

    • sabatimus - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:57 PM

      What Thornton said in this article has nothing to do with what happened tonight on the ice. It was general statements made about fighting that he said before tonight even took place. And the despicable thing that he did tonight was not fighting. This makes Cam Tucker a hack.

  3. mislysbb - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    As a Bruins fan, I found what Thornton did despicable. And the sad thing is, Thornton normally isn’t a dirty player. Clearly had an angry/emotional meltdown.
    Such a game of complete goonery, from BOTH sides (yes, both). At this point, I don’t care who wins. I just hope that Eriksson and Orpik are ok..

    • sabatimus - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      I felt sick and guilty watching the rest of the game, knowing that Orpik was probably severely hurt. Thornton doesn’t usually do stuff like this. He must’ve just snapped. But tonight, Shawn, you are officially an a-hole and I hope you get suspended for a very long time.

  4. blackandyellow71 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    “If you’re one of those guys that suckers someone when they’re down or you go after somebody that doesn’t deserve it or isn’t the same category as you, that will come back and bite you at some point, too.”

    So Thorton should understand when gets suspended 30 games.

    • shaundre93 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:43 PM

      I guarantee he will. I’m sure he feels awful

  5. madtolive5 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    I would rather have Thornton then Neal.
    Neal is very “honorable” with that knee to the head of player down on all fours.

    • kale42 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:13 PM

      The article doesn’t even mention Neal

    • pens5829 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      Brad Marchand’s still out there playing. Orpik’s in the hospital. Debate that idiot.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:23 PM

        So what? The Neal play was still the way more dangerous one. He could easily give a guy a concussion or even a neck injury doing something so colossally stupid.

      • madtolive5 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:26 PM

        Easy, well since you are a pens fan, you are amazingly biased and obviously upset your player was hurt.

      • pens5829 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:26 PM

        Just what are you smokin tonight? You should lay off it a bit and let the fog clear.

      • mitch4422 - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:36 PM

        You’re an idiot. It doesn’t matter if Marchand continues to play or not. What Neal did is inexcusable as well. You can only take injury into account so much. A dumb play is a dumb play. If Orpik isn’t taken to the hospital the play is still a cheap shot by Thornton

  6. pitpenguinsrulez - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    Well that last paragraph is too good!!

  7. sfbookreviews - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    F you and your so-called honor.

    Until today, I respected the way he played the game. Those days are gone forever.

  8. hazlydose - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    These comments are taken from before the incident and are in no way his comments on the incident. PHT is just stirring the pot a little bit. Nothing to see here.

    • kale42 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:15 PM

      Well…. they are his views, which seem a tad hypocritical after what happened today. So yes, I believe they are worth considering

      • hazlydose - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:24 PM

        They are worth considering, but the headline and the place in between the two Orpik stories make it seem like these comments came from an interview between periods.

  9. mpops86 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    Low blow. Old quote, out of context, this is his first brush with the law.

    • weenerman - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      The quote is from an article dated Dec 4, 2013. Bottom line – look at what he said. To say it is old or out of context is ignorant. You do the crime, you do the time. His actions show that, based on what he recently said, he has no real self awareness.

  10. mpops86 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    Low blow. Quote out of context, he’s a clean player who lost his virtue tonight.

  11. slysipops - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    TO PUT THE WORDS TO SONG………………

  12. patsbruin1021 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    Was it an ugly play YES is Thornton dirt NO Pitt is just as dirty a team as Montreal.
    Nothing to say when they injure someone but if their guy gets hurt call the national guard. It’s a contact sport if you don’t like it go watch track n field.

    • pens5829 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:23 PM

      Again. Typical Boston fan reaction. Go cry for Tom Brady tomorrow.

      • sabatimus - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:25 PM

        Again I’m thankful I’m not a “typical Boston fan”. patsbruin’s statements are just dumb and incredibly homerish. Thornton better get what he deserves. And I hope Orpik isn’t paralyzed :(

    • benrob99 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:24 PM

      You are as big of a joker as Thornton. We listened to you guys whine for 5 years over Cooke’s hit DURING a hockey play. What that talent less goon did tonight was 20 times worse than anything Matt Cooke ever did on the ice.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:30 PM

        You can’t be serious. Cooke has done way worse way more times.

        I have to agree with pats here. What Thornton did was totally gutless but it looks way worse than it was because of the injury. In fact the slew foot was probably more dangerous than the two little shots he gave Orpik.

  13. interiorfan - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    Thornton isn’t normally a dirty player????? Well, I guess perception is everything, isn’t it?

  14. pens5829 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    Shawn Thornton. 36 and a brain full of rocks.

  15. joey4id - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Hey! Thornton! The NHL let it be known that the chances of getting a concussion during a fight is more likely than from a hit. A punch to the head is just as likely to cause brain trauma as an elbow, which you willingly landed on Orpik’s chin tonight.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:37 PM

      Interesting insight. Are you a neuroscientist, or would you like to point me in the direction of the study that confirms that a punch in the face is the same as an elbow to the head?

      • joey4id - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:51 PM

        The NHL release the study and I have already posts the link on PHT. Do you research. Thornton was concussed from a punch last tear during a fight against John Scott and Downie earlier this year against the Caps was concussed from a punch during a fight. Matthew Barnaby and Stu Grimson retired after getting concussed during a fight.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:55 PM

        My research? You said it, show me the source.

        I’m not saying getting punched in the face is good for you or that it can’t concuss you. But I have to imagine an elbow covered in body armour colliding with a guy’s head at a high speed would be worse.

        I honestly don’t know though, which is why I ask for your proof.

      • joey4id - Dec 7, 2013 at 11:41 PM

        My point is that all the info is available on the internet or in books. Read up on some of the research performed by Robert Cantu, Ann McKee. Renowned Mayo clinic has asked for a ban on fighting.

        Here an excerpt from the NHL study.
        A study by the NHL’s Hockey Operations department, released April/2011, looked at concussions in the league over the past two seasons. Here are some stats that many have been asking for;
        Fighting is over 43 times more likely to result in a man-game lost to a concussion than a legal hit is.
        The numbers show that only 56 concussions were caused by close to 56,000 hockey hits. This means the chances of suffering head trauma from a standard hit is approximately one-tenth of one percent. Pretty good odds. There were 10 concussions from 544 hockey fights which means 1.88% of fights resulted in the specific head injury. Still sounds pretty small but statistically it means that you are almost 19 times more likely to be concussed by dropping the gloves versus simply playing the game.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:37 AM

        Taking a flying elbow to the head is not “simply playing the game.”

      • joey4id - Dec 8, 2013 at 8:38 AM

        the damage to the brain resulting from a concussion is the same whether it was caused by an elbow, punch, stick, puck etc…..

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 8, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        Since there are different grades of concussions corresponding to different levels of severity I’m going to have to disagree with you here.

      • joey4id - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:12 PM

        I agree with you about the grades. However, “studies with athletes have shown that the amount of force and the location of the impact are not necessarily correlated with the severity of the concussion or its symptoms, and have called into question the threshold for concussion previously thought to exist at around 70–75g, but damage to aurons is the same.” The grading is used to help assess the recovery time needed.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM

        You pulled that straight off of Wikipedia, and it’s talking about helmet-to-helmet hits in football.

      • joey4id - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        It’s about assessing concussions regardless of the sport. What difference does it make whether a grade II happened in football, hockey, or a car accident?

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:40 PM

        Our conversation started on whether or not a punch in the face causes the same damage as an elbow to the head. That study only talks about football contact, not hockey fights.

      • joey4id - Dec 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

        What is it you’re trying to say? Is it that a punch to the head doesn’t cause a concussion? Can a player lose consciousness after absorbing a punch in the face? If so, then that is a concussion. If your answer is no, then we disagree and need to move on.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        Go back and read this thread again. I’m saying that it’s my belief that a bare-knuckle punch to the face will cause less damage then a padded elbow at full speed to the head. I never said that a punch can’t concuss, just that it probably doesn’t cause damage as severe as that resulting from a hit targeting the head.

        I’m not a doctor, so that’s just intuition, but until I see a study comparing the two I’m going to keep thinking it.

      • joey4id - Dec 8, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        Stopping thinking like a hockey executives who is more concerned about losing profits than they are about the health of and their ability to live a healthy and productive life after retirement.

      • joey4id - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        BTW, Cantu and his team dissected and studied the brains of hockey players as well.

      • joey4id - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:23 PM

        http://www.thinkfirst.ca/downloads/resources/scat-pg1.pdf

      • joey4id - Dec 8, 2013 at 8:40 AM

        really. Orpik should have not hit Ericksson because the Pens were down a couple of d men. Maybe Ericksson shouldn’t be hovering near the blue line looking behind him. Every d men would have made that hit.,

  16. FoozieGrooler - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    ..enjoy your 10-game suspension scumbag…

  17. patsbruin1021 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Pens5829 Orpiks head shot was dirty Neal’s hit dirty Thortorns second punch dirty.

    • greenmtnboy31 - Dec 8, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Except Orpik didn’t make a head shot.

  18. patsbruin1021 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Woooooooooooooo

  19. shaundre93 - Dec 7, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Why can’t people just accept this as a stupid mistake. Orpiks hit was stuipd. Neals knee was stupid. Thorntons play was stupid. This was just an ugly period all around.Unfortunately, brooks orpik was seriously injured. Could’ve happened in any of those plays. In fact, for all we know Eriksson could be just as bad off or worse than orpik. We just saw boychuk stretchered off and he’s not in terrible shape. No one seems to care about Eriksson though, they’re more concerned with bashing the bruins

    This wasn’t just some random attack, it was an emotionally charged outburst towards a player he felt deserved it. He took it to far, but there is no way he could have thought he would do that kind of damage. I guarantee he feels awful right now and I’d be surprised if he fights whatever punishment is given him

  20. salmon90 - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    I wonder who you cheer for?! Let’s excuse him though because he feels bad about it and it was an ‘emotional’ play…unlike every other hockey play!!

    He’s a goon who cheap shotted someone and now they’re hurt. Stop making excuses for him.

  21. nicknyhc - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    Oh look, the Pens throw dirty cheap shots all night and its considered “playing with an edge”.

    Then, the opposing team fights back and its dirty and “gutless”. When has THIS ever happened?!

    Apparently the Bruins, Rangers, Isles, Flyers are all gutless, but only when playing the Pens. Ironic, huh?

    If the golden boys from Pittsburgh want to get dirty they better be prepared to answer for it. Good for Thornton!

    • sabatimus - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:26 PM

      Good for Thornton? Are you mad or just sick?

      • nicknyhc - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:30 PM

        I’m not a Bruins fan. If the Pens are gonna dish out fly-by knees to the head on opposing players they’re gonna have to answer for it.

        Orpik is a cheapshot artist and regularly knee on knees players. Neal intentionally knees Marchand in the head while he’s down. And then the Pens do what they always do….hide behind the refs and run their mouths.

        If you’re gonna try to play dirty with a team like Boston you better be able to back it up.

    • cheetah440 - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      exactly. Enough is enough. How many more Bruins carted off by Penguin punk cheap shots??

      Thorton said enough. Good for him

  22. graymalkin26 - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    Hate the Bruins, but good for him…old school, cool…Americans won’t like it, but they are to busy invading other countries…PTSD…what happened to USA..holy knob cobbler!

  23. steelnation412 - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Grabbing an unsuspecting person from behind and forcefully throwing them to the ice before jumping on top of them and punching them repeatedly while they are likely unconscious from the initial impact is not just suspension worthy but is criminal. Hockey will never be taken seriously as long as these acts are allowed. A classless, cowardly act from a “respectable” player?! An “emotionally charged outburst” is absolutely no excuse to end with this result.

  24. spicyjimbolaya - Dec 7, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    This is just like the Bertuzzi incident. If Thornton doesn’t get a lengthy suspension, the NHL will never be taken seriously as a major sport in the eyes of advertisers and tv networks. Who wants their company’s name and/or products associated with this kind of thuggery?

    • sfischer1967 - Dec 8, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      Thornton should be banned for the remainder of the season, not suspended. Difference being, he’d need to apply for reinstatement.

  25. canada2014gold - Dec 8, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    This guy is a joke, plays cheap hockey. It’s the only way they can take the penguins.

    • adylans7 - Dec 8, 2013 at 2:44 AM

      You obviously don’t know anything about Thornton. He is 36 years old and as an enforcer this is his first hearing and most likely his first suspension ever. If you watched the game you could see the dirty plays from penguins like Neal when he kneed Marchand in the head and letang giving a little extra after his hits. So now let’s say Marchand has to be taken off on a stretcher and orpik doesn’t. Would neal be getting all this hate and Thorntons play be somewhat hidden behind fans hating on the penguins

      • greenmtnboy31 - Dec 8, 2013 at 11:24 AM

        Hmmm, so why did Chara end up with a penalty after that initial play? Oh, because the Bruins can’t take a clean hit and are always “giving a little extra” after hits. Marchand deserves it when he gets hit like that.

  26. buffalo65 - Dec 8, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    Any concussion that is caused by fighting is one too many. Fighting will soon be out of the game. Injuries happen, but to suffer an injury in a pointless sideshow is unnecessary.

  27. buffalo65 - Dec 8, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    The only sport where a player is “obligated” to fight. Someone please explain this. I want to be sure to explain to my kids when you “have” to fight even though you are just playing a game.
    Crazy…fighting isn’t something you should sign up for to play a game.

  28. stoopidfool - Dec 8, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Everybody gets what they deserve

  29. goalie007 - Dec 8, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Shawn Thornton: ‘People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable’ ???
    Not sure about that, but I know I can criticize him for being a no-talent goon.

  30. sfischer1967 - Dec 8, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Don’t like either team, but here are a few observations – trying to keep them unbiased
    1. Orpik’s hit on Eriksson is questionable at best.
    2. Fighting is in hockey to “regulate” hits such as the one Orpik put on Eriksson. Orpik knows this
    3. Orpik declined to be held accountable for his actions.
    4. Thornton flips his lid – decides to hold Orpik accountable. should face a ban (not a suspension) for remainder of the year. Difference being, he’ll need to apply for reinstatement.
    5. Neal hit (and Pascal slash on Kelly) should be viewed as retaliatory, and suspended for 10 games – 5 games for Pascal.
    6. Pens fans – wasn’t it Matt Cooke wearing a Pens sweater when Bergeron was badly concussed? Don’t try to take high ground with Thornton. While despicable, (see above) Thornton was at least calling on the players to police themselves.

    Overall observation – both teams like to play to the limits of the rules, oftentimes crossing the line into dirty play. The difference being that when challenged to be held accountable for their actions, the Bruins accept responsibility and the Pens generally do not. Cooke, Crosby, Orpik, Neal…many examples.

    Finally, to the person who erroneously claimed that players were “obligated to fight”, that is a wrong view of fighting in hockey. Players only become “obligated” when their play becomes reckless (see Orpik’s hit on Eriksson last evening) to the point where their actions could injure their opponents. Hockey players understand this, and have for many years policed themselves through “on-ice justice”, meaning, if you want to play recklessly, you’ll be held accountable. Every hockey player taking the ice knows this, and it’s only been in the last 5 years or so that certain players have wanted to circumvent the on-ice legal system. Any player not wanting to fight by and large knows how to avoid it – simply play within the rules, and avoid attempting to injure an opponent.

  31. yanmontreal - Dec 8, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Weird hein? Thoses stupid Bruins are always in middle of those kind of storys……hate them and there fans

  32. babykaby - Dec 11, 2013 at 5:21 AM

    After Shanahan and the league allowed that assault on Holtby by Emery without any repercussions, players like Thorton believe there are no longer any boundaries regarding beating on a player who refuses to participate in a fight. Thornton is a goon, nothing more. He should have to wear a hoodie to emphsize what a thug he is. Both of these teams play dirty and they are allowed to get away with it. Orpik is no angel and has thrown his share of dirty hits. Failure to act on these senseless beatings when one player does not want to participate in a fight is making hockey a joke.

  33. nsmiff87 - Dec 12, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    So many of you idiots supporting what Thornton did an yet you can’t even spell his name right. It’s Thornton, not Thorton

Featured video

Bettman hears the boos in Philly
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (1904)
  2. L. Stempniak (1765)
  3. D. Roy (1499)
  4. A. Rome (1347)
  5. C. Franson (1337)
  1. R. O'Reilly (1334)
  2. D. Booth (1221)
  3. R. Nash (1148)
  4. P. Subban (1062)
  5. M. Ribeiro (1044)