Skip to content

Crosby on Thornton: ‘It was terrible; I’m sure he knows that …’

Dec 9, 2013, 7:31 PM EDT

orpikcrosbyap AP

Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he thought Shawn Thornton‘s incident with Brooks Orpik was “terrible,” but his overall assessment of the situation was pretty level-headed.

For one thing, he gave a pretty reasonable explanation for why he believes Orpik had the right to reject a fight following his big hit on Loui Eriksson.

” … For [Orpik], he’s got to play 25 minutes a night against the other team’s players. For him to fight, probably isn’t going help us,” Crosby said. “I don’t think he has to punish our team because he’s made a big hit on some guy. I don’t think [it makes] sense for him to fight there. But that happens. Every team responds like that for the most part. Sometimes guys go, sometimes they don’t. There are other ways to respond.”

Ultimately, it sounds like Crosby’s issue isn’t with Thornton attempting to fight Orpik. Instead, it’s about how he went about doing it (which Thornton has profusely apologized about, by the way).

“I don’t see a problem with Thornton going over to [Orpik] and asking him to fight. That’s the response,” Crosby said. “But to do what he did was totally unnecessary. It’s terrible. I’m sure he knows that more than everybody. He’s made a living at protecting his teammate and sticking up for them. But to confront [Orpik] and ask him to fight, I think every team wants a player like that. There’s nothing wrong with that. But to do what he did to him is not acceptable.”

Word is that we’ll find out if the NHL agrees – and to what degree, as far as how long a potential suspension may be – on Wednesday.

In case you want to see how they fare without Orpik, Crosby’s Penguins face the Columbus Blue Jackets on NBCSN Monday.

  1. girouxed - Dec 9, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    What about Orpik’s shoulder to the head and Neal’s knee to the head?????

    • claudegirwho - Dec 9, 2013 at 7:42 PM

      You can comment when your players stop trying to sucker punch people.

  2. Josh Brown - Dec 9, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    Fair assessment of what happened and that’s coming from a Bruins fan. He should acknowledge the dirty crap the Penguins did too, but can’t blame him for not doing that I suppose. Should have been one of the better games in the NHL this season, but it turned into a cheap shot battle. Too bad they aren’t playing each other again this season (at least i don’t think so)

  3. terrier92 - Dec 9, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Crosby is a great player no doubt But I don’t think for a moment he is an expert hockey morality The king of the slew foot while regarded as a great players by his peers I would guess is not held in high regard in other locker rooms.

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

      Can you please provide video evidence of him being “the king of the slew foot” hahahaha I would love to see it.

    • chanceoffleury - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:06 PM

      If by not held in high regard you mean just about every single GM would straight up trade any player on your team in a player for player trade who isn’t named Stamkos or Ovechkin, then yes he is held in very little regard. Super small. Very, very, very low regard.

      • killerpgh - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:10 PM

        Or the fact that he won the Ted Lindsey Award last year? The award voted on by his peers for be the most outstanding player in the NHL. I would say the player in other locker rooms have high regards for Crosby. But thats just a fact.

    • moarjam - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      I’m sure he’s held in high regard by his peers. He is the best player in the game.

  4. 950003cups - Dec 9, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    Why do the Pens always find themselves in the midst of violent melees? With Flyers, Bruins, and lets not forget that long one with the Islanders.

    Just sayin’

    • killerpgh - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:06 PM

      Is the answer because they are other NHL teams?

    • lindbergh9 - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:37 PM

      Are you a dork? High quality teams bring out the fight club no talent groups who wish they had skills. The only skills these wanna bes are hitting from behind or fighting which is a 1 on a 10 scale of hockey talent. Who had the most penalty minutes the last few years??? Couldn’t be the Flyers right? Dah!!!

      • itsallniceonice - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:48 PM

        Who swept the Penguins last earlier this year?

      • pepper2011 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:02 PM

        Yeah- The pens are always in the middle of these types of things. And, yes I agree the better teams get the “A” game every time, but the Pens don’t really fall into that Category. They did last year and look what happened.

        They are not as scary (top 3) without Sid. it’s not an insult to Geno. They haven’t had the D or goaltending. B’s wouldn’t be the same without Chara and the Hawks without Toews

        Point being; the Elite in the NHL right now are the Hawks and B’s. Like it or not. They(pens) have both been to the Cup twice and won at least one in the last four years. The team you view as inferior have out performed the Pens.

        I judge success by production. Then Pens haven’t made it to a Final in 5 years. This is not the 08-09 Pens. it’s not. If you were stating this in 2010, 11 or 12- you might be right, but it’s been five years since the Pens made it. You can’t anoint a team the best in the league because it’s your opinion. They haven’t produced over the last 4+ years.

        I don’t think the Pens are bad. (although, I think they fall out of playoff race due to goaltending and a really banged up D). They are just not at the level of the B’s or Hawks. Until they beat or go farther than one of those team when it counts it will be that way.

        Perharps it’s the Pens that bring their 1 on scale of 1-10 when they meet the B’s…

    • jl9830 - Dec 10, 2013 at 2:37 AM

      This. At some point, the Penguins need to take a look at their own actions, and stop trying to blame other people and other teams. When it was the Islanders, Mario Lemieux whined that he wasn’t sure he wanted to be a part of a league that allowed this stuff, yet there he was signing Matt Cooke’s paychecks. When it’s the Flyers/Bruins/etc., same stuff. But it’s the Penguins who consistently find themselves in these predicaments, so maybe before they analyze other team’s dirty play, they should look inward.

      • moarjam - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:27 AM

        Pens are a dirty team. Probably the dirtiest in the league. I personally cant stand them. But you cant blame them for this incident. Crosby is right. Orpik shouldn’t have to step up and risk injury (he’s not much of a fighter) because the bruins didn’t like the clean hit he laid.

      • pepper2011 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:13 PM

        Agree and disagree. If Sid got hit like that by Boychuk- Engellend would have came knocking and he would have answered the bell. No, he doesn’t have to fight, but if you are going to hit people the way he tries to hit people (star players); you have to expect something. It was moments into the game, He could have wrestled Thornton to the ground and it would have been over.

        It does not justify Thornton’s actions, but Orpik could have stood up and accepted that at the very least the hit was questionable or on a star player. I still think it was Neals’ knee that set him off. I have watched this guy for years and never seen him react like that.

        Not justifying, but he is viewing it as Eriksson concussed on questionable hit, and he just saw Neal knee Marchand in the head (he didn’t know at the time he would stay in game). two dirty plays in first ten minutes (Thornton was by Marchand, that’s why it took him so long to get to Orpik). Neal Skated right off, so one of the Captains need to take responsibility. What Thornton did was wrong, but that is how I can put some of the blame on the Pens.

        I think what Thornton did was really bad, no justification – just an explanation.

        it’s kind of a chicken or egg situation.

  5. 19to77 - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    Pretty fair assessment. A lot of players would have said something way less reasonable than that. And really, you have to expect the team captain won’t be throwing his own guys under the bus, so it’s easy enough to see why he didn’t go out of his way to criticize Neal – but I’m glad to see he’s not making an effort to defend that hit either. That kind of hypocrisy is always disappointing to hear from a player, team loyalty or not.

    • killerpgh - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:21 PM

      I’m sure there is more, but the only player I can remember ever throw his teammate under the bus publicly was Bill Guerin on Matt Cooke after the Savard hit. It doesn’t happen often and shouldn’t, imo. In the locker room without media around is the time for teammates to voice there displeasure with one another. But a Captain (or any players for that matter) should never throw a teammate under the bus where people outside the team can use it.

  6. steelers88 - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    Crosby and and basically about every player did not defend Neal at all. Even Dan Byslma did not defend Neal. By the way Orpik’s hit on Eriksson was clean. The only reason why Eriksson got a concussion is because he hit his head on the ice. Also Neal needs to grow the HELL UP! His really hurting his own team for the next 5 games. Penguins really miss him on the Power Play. Thanks a lot Neal.

  7. patfanken - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:22 PM

    Let it rest already. Thornton has already said his mia cuplas many times over. And given Neal’s 5 game suspension, he is probably looking at 10 himself. Thornton is the the Bruins enforcer, but he’s also a decent hockey player, who does more than just fight. Orpik deserved a beating for his questionable hit of Erikson, but just not the way it played out. Thornton understands it and made the clear that night right after the game. He’ll take what’s coming to him, and hope the Penguins eventually meet up with the B’s in the playoffs. I know I do

  8. steelers88 - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:28 PM

    I would to. The only thing is however I could see it being like the Flyers/Penguins series of a couple years ago. I could see it being a series with a lot of dirty cheap plays. I could see it know the 1st game the Penguins will BR out for revenge and they will probably take a cheap shot at one of the Bruins.

  9. sjsharks66 - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    I always respected Thornton as a tough player and loved his energy. I lost a good amount of respect on Saturday. I hope he proves it was just a mistake and his career won’t end with that as the one thing he is remembered for.

  10. muckleflugga - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    a fair assessment in light of the fact sid has himself been mauled and beaten without any sense of protection from among others, brooks orpik

    had anyone done to a detroit player that was done to sid, they’d have left town in several boxes; perhaps we’re hearing a left-handed dig from sid…supporting thornton at the expense of teammates

    or, perhaps sid has told everyone to stand-down and leave him to fight his own battles

    good on you sid

  11. sabatimus - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Nice to see Crosby calling a spade a spade here.

  12. muckleflugga - Dec 9, 2013 at 8:45 PM


    take a pill my erudite if not prolific friend

    what thornton did is old news, historically and in the season at hand…repentance in a league thriving on bloodlust, get real…

    thornton will fill seats everywhere he goes for the next two seasons…come see the punching monkey, a spectacle to behold…?

    how is thornton going to get any games in suspension if emery got none…separate the events beyond a fictionalized account of unintended consequence and you get the evgeni malkin kewpie doll

    orpik, the most recent victim of the itinerant concussion, festering for an entire career, but manifest in a few bold strokes of doctor shero’s pen come monday

    farce following farce…

    sunday mornin’ my head is bad
    but it’s worth it for the time that I had

    but I’ve got to get my rest
    ’cause monday is a mess

    • spitfisher - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:14 PM


  13. nosefacekillah - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    If Crosby wanted to generate any respect he should be commenting on the play of his teammates. Neal, Cooke, Dupuis, Crosby’s long history of stick work and even Orpiks targeting Eriksson (the classic hit on defenseless player looking to inflict maximum damage) all deserve criticism but Pitt is always silent about their own dirty play. Thornton and Julien both said the play was unacceptable. What do we hear from Pitt and Neal targeting the head? Nothing but denials.

    Mario will soon be out shouting he is taking his puck and going home because Marchand did not get a penalty for interfering with Neal. Is it any wonder this team is despised coast to coast? One cup with this talent level and the league in Marios pocket? What a joke.

    • gallyhatch - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:57 PM

      Enough already,

      -from a Bruins fan.

    • pittsburghmohawk - Dec 10, 2013 at 8:57 AM

      Please tell me who said what Neal did was right? Bylsma spoke ut against it immediately after the game. At the same time Juien was trying to deflect blame for Thornton. Orpik’s hit was as clean as it gets. You should be mad at the teammate who attempted that pass. That is the reason he got lit up by Orpik with aclassic check, shoulder to sternum. You can’t hit someone more straight on than that.

  14. steelers88 - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    To bad Cooke is on the Minnesota Wild. What were you excepting an apology? Cmon man. This is hockey. What exactly do the Penguins have to apologize for? Neal’s kneeing Marchand in the back of the head? Neal should apologize not the whole damn team but don’t expect one because Neal can be a dick at times. BTW Byslma and all the players have already said what Neal did was wrong what more do you want? He was suspended 5 games. BTW did David Steckel apologize when he clocked Crosby in the head in the Winter Classic. The answer. NO.

  15. steelers88 - Dec 9, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    Wait What!?!?!?

  16. 7mantel - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    Crosby must have forgotten his cowardly act of punching Boris Valabik in the balls from behind !

    • gallyhatch - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      Thanks for inspiring me to look up this link, it’s phenomenal. Awesome nut shot Sydney.

      Brooks Orpik gets in on the action too. Bunch of stand up guys there.

      • shaundre93 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        Plenty of thumbs down, but im hearing no explanation as to why it’s ok for sid to attack an unsuspecting player, double team him, punch him in the back of the head and give em a nut shot. Not to mention it all started because orpik mauled a guy after the whistle. seems pretty hypocritical to me

      • gallyhatch - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:42 AM

        Sid the Nutshot Kid

      • amm203 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        You’re getting thumbs down because you can search YouTube for “x Cheap Shot” and fill in “x” with a lot of different players on the NHL (including some Bruins gallyhatch – Captain Chara, too!) and get a similar result of them being idiots during a game. One sided fanboyism puts the blinders on and makes people forget about that, though.

      • amm203 - Dec 10, 2013 at 12:33 PM

        The Epitome of Hypocrisy:

        You can search for other teams doing the same thing. Keep your stupid one-sided comments to yourself gally.

      • gallyhatch - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        Relax guy, you’re acting like someone who just got punched in the nuts.

        I agree, the Bruins get away with some calls, there are no blinders on me. I just can’t recall any Bruins sinking to such depths as to punch a guy in the testicles from behind while he’s engaged with another opponent. Correct me if I’m wrong, please. Behavior like that should not be tolerated, and the perpetrator should be suspended for 20-30 games (sound familiar?).

        You’re right though, this is no place for ‘stupid one-sided comments’.

      • amm203 - Dec 10, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        YouTube Marchand dirty play and tell me that him literally sinking to such low depths as taking out Emelin or Salo at the knees (on purpose) isn’t more dangerous. You’ve been commenting on here like the Pens/Crosby/Orpik are the scum of the league conveniently leaving out the BS your team and countless others have taken part in and then acting like a wuss when someone points it out. I’m simply pointing out that people like you give real hockey fans a bad name. I’d be the first to tell you that what Neal did was horrendous and deserves more than 5 games. It does not by any means define the team he plays for. You know that. I know that.

      • gallyhatch - Dec 10, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        You clearly missed my comments over the last week condemning Thornton’s actions.

        You must have also missed my many comments condemning Marchand’s style of play over the last few years. He is my least favorite Bruin because of his diving and cheap shots over the years. His move to take out Salo was about as dirty as it gets. You’ll get no argument from me on that one.

        I’ll tell you something else, according to the Ottawa Sun, I’m not the only one who thinks little of Orpik:

        “Orpik, who one NHL executive referred to Monday as one of the “dirtiest and phoniest players in the league” rarely drops the gloves even though he plays on the edge.”

        But, that’s just another ‘one-sided opinion’.

        As far as Sid The Nutshot Kid being the scum of the league, well I’ll just let that video speak for itself.

      • theskinsman - Dec 11, 2013 at 6:47 PM

        Hey, If it’s a 2 on 1, Pens can fight! I bet they whined afterward about bruised hands.

  17. matthews4 - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    OK couple of things here, Sid if you are not going to pass judgement on what your teammates did you lose ALL credibility. There is no place in hockey for a slash that breaks a mans ankle or a knee to the head. So i guess we can pick and choose because he thinks he is the morality of hockey. Yeah its wrong to hit a guy who does not see it coming 3 words for you hypocritical Brett Mclean You guys asked for video now tell me that was not in the same realm as what Thornton did. My how quickly we forget we have skeletons. He hit a man with his head down who did not see it coming. Really Sid Really???

    • 19to77 - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:19 PM

      What the hell else do you expect? Teammates don’t throw each other under the bus. Use your head. These guys have to play, travel and for long stretches more or less live together. If they can’t trust each other, if they have animosity, the whole team suffers. There are a thousand talking heads to condemn Neal for the knee to Marchand. Teammates don’t have to defend each other all the time, and there are a lot of times I wish they wouldn’t and they do, but teammates never condemn each other in public either. There’s no trust after something like that.

      Go on, tell me your team’s players slam each other to the media when they get suspended for dirty hits. Give an example or two, even. I’ll wait.

  18. joey4id - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    I don’t get you guys who expect a player to throw a teammate under the bus. Are you all idiots or clueless about team dynamics? If they want to dish on Neal for what he did it will be done in private. Why would it be done in public? How the hell can you compare a hockey play like the hit on Eriksson to the barbaric attack Thornton inflicted on Orpik?

  19. 7mantel - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    BS artist Crosby

  20. ironyisadeadscene - Dec 9, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Sid is a joke just like the rest of the cheap shot pu$$ies in Pitt. Whatever

    • pittsburghmohawk - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:00 AM

      Best player in the world. Among people with real hockey knowledge, it’s not even a question. But hey, I’m sure you know more tan all of them.

  21. gingerkid2000 - Dec 10, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    Yes Crosby, Thorton knows what he did was wrong. He was man enough to admit it. Unfortunately neither you, nor any your fellow teammates or fans are capable of doing the same. Maybe that’s why you got swept during the playoffs and are the joke of the NHL.

  22. steelers88 - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    To bad the joke of the NHL is at the top of the Eastern Conference. I actually don’t mind people hating on the Penguins because that means they actually fear and respect them. I relish rooting for the bad guys keep it coming.

    • shaundre93 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM

      By “fear” do you mean fear that at any moment an unsuspecting player could be kneed in the head or launched into without ever playing the puck? Or maybe the fear that Crosby can do whatever he damn well pleases and get away with it, as per the video evidence above? How many times has neal taken cheap shots the last three years? Matt Cooke… Remember malkin punching Giroux in the back of the head? And yet they continue to cry wolf while the NHL enables them to do so. There’s no denying the talent in Pitt, but to say they are respected is a stretch at the least.

  23. steelers88 - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    Funny it seems to be working for the Penguins for the past 7 years. In that time the Penguins have been to two Stanley Cup Finals and won one of them. Also Crosby and Malkin are the two best players in hockey. I really think the Penguins players could careless of what you think about them.

  24. redwinger6 - Dec 10, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    Hey Sid, why don’t you talk about Neal kneeing Marchand in the head on purpose? That was just as bad as what that meathead Thornton did, but at least Thirnton admitted what he did was wrong instead of taking the usual Penguin line of “I didn’t do anything wrong, it was an accident.”

  25. kmo25 - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    I love how Crosby says he just threw a “big hit”. Yeahhhh, I wonder how “Sid the kid” would feel if the puck were nowhere near him and Chara came on a full speed seek & destroy mission? I wonder if Orpik would have come to his rescue? If Orpik had fought Thornton on the first request, incident #2 would have never happened. If you are going to go after guys with the sole intention of knocking them out of the game, then be prepared to drop the mittens. And, by the way, if Thornton really wanted to do damage to Orpik he would have taken his gloves OFF. It’s not his fault Orpik has a glass jaw!

    This whole thing is being blown out of proportion. The media buffoons who want fighting out of hockey are pointing at it and saying “See!? See what happens?”. And the hockey types wholike it have to defend it by saying “yeah, that was awful. That was over the line. We’ll really come down hard on him for it.” just so they can keep fighting.
    Well guess what, he got him down and gave him a couple of “smarten up” jabs with his gloves on. Just so happens he caught him on the button and knocked him out!

  26. Lou Gagliardi - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Thorton is a thug who deserves a lifetime ban. Orpik, which isn’t reported here, can’t remember ANYTHING after the national anthem.

    Marchand is a dirty player. How do we know that Neal actually kneed him in the head and Marchand didn’t “trip” and hit his head.

    I hate Boston to the point that I think if ANY Pittsburgh team has anyone from boston on it, they should immediately cut them.

  27. Lou Gagliardi - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Thorton is a thug who deserves a lifetime ban. Orpik, which isn’t reported here, can’t remember ANYTHING after the national anthem.

    Marchand is a dirty player. How do we know that Neal actually kneed him in the head and Marchand didn’t “trip” and hit his head.

    I hate Boston to the point that I think if ANY Pittsburgh team has anyone from boston on it, they should immediately cut them.

    • gallyhatch - Dec 10, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      Wow. I didn’t think it was possible for these comments to get any less intelligent, but I was wrong.

  28. shaundre93 - Dec 10, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    The one thing that continues to blow my mind in all of this is that somehow the hit on Eriksson was clean. Since when did it become OK to absolutely destroy a guy who almost plays the puck? I hope Sid almost plays the puck and gets lit up like that so we can hear the pitt fans tell us it was a clean hit. And before anyone trashes me for wishing injury… it’s a clean hit, right?

    Thornton was gross. Neal was gross. Cant do that

    If there is even a minor penalty on the play so much of that aggression gets diffused. But, the NHL and the officials once again proved themselves incompetent to be able to control a game. I know we all love big hits, but come on, that was as much an attempt to injure as any other play that game. There was no attempt to separate a guy from the puck, there was no puck. Any Pitt fan who says they like the hit is a liar because they would be going absolutely crazy if that happened to Crosby

  29. kastout11 - Dec 10, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    I am a Flyers fan and probably dislike the Pens and Crosby just like every other Flyers fan, but I agree with Crosby 100%. I agree that is Thornton’s job to stand up for his teammates and every team needs guys like that, where opposing players know if you take liberties on other less physical players, you will have to answer the bell when someone wants to let you know that hits like that are unacceptable. However, if the guy will not fight, you need to let it go, and maybe try to get at him later, but not the way Thornton did it. Thornton clearly knows he made a mistake and genuinely feels bad for the result of his actions, and you would hope he doesn’s go about it that way again, but he is Shawn Thornton. Terrible situation, not only by Thornton, but by Dupuis also, and especially Neal for intentionally trying to injure a player. Unacceptable.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1741)
  2. P. Kane (1365)
  3. M. Richards (1248)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1234)
  5. N. Backstrom (1095)