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Instant column: Hey, Gary, this blood’s on your hands

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

To Gary Bettman, for your consideration:

What Shawn Thornton did to Brooks Orpik tonight in Boston was a CRIME.

It’ll be treated as a penalty.

And that’s the problem with your NHL, Gary, where eye-for-an-eye is law of the land, embraced by the dinosaur wing of general managers who — incredibly, insanely, barbarically — think that allowing people to beat each other in the heads with fists can act as some sort of peacemaking mechanism.

Thornton got his 10-minute match penalty for what’s seen in this clip below. You saw it, and you don’t want to see it again, I know, but here it is along with some of the aftermath involved …

That’s a CRIME, Gary, not a penalty.


A CRIME that puts you behind bars and ruins your career, not one that costs you one-eighth or even a quarter of a regular seasons.

Give the on-ice refs credit. There’s absolutely nothing more they could issue Thornton than what they did. A 10-minute match penalty is as rare as it gets in hockey. That’s what Thornton got, along with the concurrent game misconduct.

But that’s where the hockey component should end. That’s where it must end.

If I hear one syllable about Bettman and Brendan Shanahan and crew going through Thornton’s priors — as if that matters — I’ll be even sicker to my stomach than I was when watching this CRIME committed on TV. Prior history isn’t weighed on the street when someone does exactly what Thornton did: Attack someone from behind, then continue to pound on them while prone. Maybe in sentencing, but that’s it. It isn’t weighed in the charge, and it isn’t weighed in delivering a verdict.

This is a CRIME.

I don’t want to hear, either, about how Thornton lacked sportsmanship. Because that’s giving him too much credit. This act had not only nothing to do with sportsmanship but also nothing to do with sports. Nothing.

It’s not a penalty. It’s not an unwritten rule that was violated.

This is a CRIME.

And this is on you, Gary, not anyone else, to have it treated that way.

You’ve slept through Ray Emery assaulting an unwilling counterpart goalie in Philadelphia, didn’t even bother to issue so much as a tiny fine or suspension while hiding behind the skirt that some new rule needed to be created. That was cowardly garbage, and you knew it at the time. You had to.

You’ve turned the other cheek while Semyon Varlamov has been charged by Denver Police with assaulting his girlfriend, a case that had the law convinced enough to press on but not to get the NHL’s commissioner to do so much as lift a finger to keep Varlamov from playing comparatively meaningless hockey games in the interim. That was cowardly and unethical garbage, and you know it. You have to.

But this?

Sorry, Gary, you’ve got nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You’ve got Todd Bertuzzi and Donald Brashear all over again. At least I hope you do. I hope this makes it onto Oprah and the Today show and all the 24/7 news networks. Much as I love this great game and will hate to see it dragged through the mud, I can’t picture what else it would take at this point to get you out from under the desk to take meaningful action.

And what would be meaningful in this case?

I’ll make this simple and blunt: That player, Thornton, is no longer a player. He doesn’t deserve that designation. He’s forfeited it. He’s a CRIMINAL who committed a CRIME. And as such, he’s no longer welcome to play in the NHL in front of families and children, never mind just the regular fans who love the game and hate to see it sullied. Fans who hate that they don’t even feel comfortable watching the rest of this game tonight.

Thornton should be gone. For life.

And if the Boston authorities would like to have a word or two with him, you tell your New York lawyers to back off.

Set a real precedent.

For once in your woebegone tenure that’s seen three work stoppages, a relentless decrease in scoring and a merciless increase in wanton violence like this, do something to set a real precedent.

Show some guts.

Because if you don’t, someone will die in this game.

Someone will die, Gary, and the blood will be on your hands so much more than any miscreant like Thornton.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Larry Rosenberger says:

    If they keep it up like they have…. They will start to be mentioned in the same breath as the NFL… And not in any good way.

  2. Kris says:

    This is the kind of thing that’s kept me from getting on the season ticket waiting list. Every time I think about it, I end up wondering if I want to give money to the NHL when these sorts of things happen and there’s barely a peep from the league.

  3. Ray Reed says:

    Right on, Dejan. Bettman is clearly the root of everything that is wrong with the garage league.

  4. theplanisworking says:

    DK, one of your finest.

    As long as the “dinosaur GM’s”, and owners like Jacobs get their way, the NHL can never improve.

  5. Jandy says:

    I agree with Plan here. Excellent, Dejan.

    Gary, are you listening?

  6. Derek B. says:

    I love hockey. I really do. And it’s a shame such a wonderful sport has such an awful league. Imagine if this happened in baseball. Imagine the repercussions. Now let’s see if the NHL can match it.

  7. Jandy says:

    And if Thornton gets away with this embarrassment to the sport of hockey, Gary and Brendan should also be charged with aiding and abbetting

  8. theplanisworking says:

    Jandy, trust me, Jacobs is already on the line with Bettman telling him what to do (or not to do).

  9. Lee says:

    Couldn’t agree more.

    But watching the game on the NHL network with the morons from NESN, they’d have you believe it was Orpik’s fault for his hit on Erickson then not fighting Thornton when he wanted to go.

    That’s the neandrathal mindset that pervades the NHL and lets goons keep their places in the league.

  10. Jandy says:

    Then maybe Brooksie should file assault charges

  11. JohninOshkosh says:

    This is why I read Dejan. As far I as I can tell, he is one of the few American writers beating this drum. And, as is popular to say these days, Dejan is on the right side of history.

  12. theplanisworking says:

    + many. Oshie.

  13. Barb says:

    Superb Dejan. I don’t know how Bettman sleeps at night when Criminal incidents like we just witnessed continues to occur. Gargage league indeed.

  14. theplanisworking says:

    Barb, quit insulting garages……….

  15. Court Jester says:

    I love hockey but I cannot stand the thought of this type of violence. This is criminal and should be treated as such. I can’t imagine the parents in the arena trying to explain these deplorable actions to their children in attendance.

  16. Barb says:

    Okay okay how about garbage league? But I don’t want to insult those brave individuals who pick up vile and disgusting items everyday.

  17. Danny says:

    spot on, Dejan. There is a poor culture in the NHL right now. No need for this justice that everyone saying Thornton was doing.

  18. hockeymonster says:

    Notion that clean hits justify immediate fights is a problem. Don’t like a hit…get even later. If it’s dirty like maybe neals knee then challenge Neal. Don’t assault from blind side with slew foot n punches.

  19. theplanisworking says:

    I see a lot of new faces posting here tonight.
    If you list your location, Bizrow the Retired will keep track of the locations where people read Dejan’s fine work!

  20. theplanisworking says:

    Just pulling your leg, Barb! ;)

  21. Barbara says:

    BRAVO!!!!!! This is a crime. Assault at its worst. There is no excuse for what he did. He should be thrown out of hockey and thrown in a jail cell

  22. Brian Skokowski says:

    This was disgusting, a disgrace to professional sports of the worst degree. I was screaming, cursing, and throwing stuff at the tv, like I’m sure the rest of Pittsburgh was. Thornton HAS to be suspended for the rest of the season without pay, no less will be acceptable. However, I couldn’t agree less with the idea that this is a “CRIME.” I said the same thing years ago, when they threatened criminal charges against McSorley in Vancouver. Said the same thing in the Emery-Holtby incident. When you step on the ice, you assume all risk that comes with the game. This is the biggest disgrace imaginable in hockey, a huge black eye on the NHL. But, in my opinion, anything that happens within the context of a professional sport can’t possibly be considered a legitimate criminal offense.

  23. Barb says:

    I know. Just trying to find some humor in a humorless situation.

  24. BillW says:

    I agree this is a crime. But as you probably know that there most likely only be a suspension involved.
    In a case like this, the offending player should be required to sit out as many games as the injured player, plus more.
    If a player is permanently injured, the offending player in question should be out of hockey.
    Get well, Brooks!

  25. theplanisworking says:

    Thornton should get 3 to 5……….

  26. I hope Bettman sees this article and things change before it’s too late. Right on DK.

  27. Jandy says:

    + many

  28. Ray Reed says:


  29. Jandy says:

    Plan sees new faces rallying for Brooksie and the integrity of the game of NHL hockey.
    We’re happy to chat with you!
    If you post your hometown, Bizrow will add it to the list of Dejan’s Lunantics’ Asylum.

  30. Pam says:

    Amen brother. Amen.

  31. theplanisworking says:

    Good one!!

  32. Alan says:

    Shawn Thorton.*

  33. Alan says:

    Whoops; what I saw was outdated, apparently. Never mind my correction.

  34. theplanisworking says:


    I guess I have to be quiet about what you do to new faces? ;)

  35. Court Jester says:

    So by your logic the pens should have brought guns and knives out in the third period? To say you assume a risk is fine…..but it has to be a reasonable risk within the normal.context of the game. What happened tonight was anything but normal.

  36. Vette60 says:


    Thanks for the quick and very excellent work on this instant column. I must say that I absolute 100 percent agreement on this topic…

    I stated in the game thread that as long as the game is ruled by a bunch of barbaric cavemen, this is the type of donkey dung that has to be dealt with…

    Don Cherry was yapping along a similar line as the NESN announcers regarding the incident…as if Orpik deciding not to fight Thorton earlier somehow, in some strange Neanderthal type way, make Orpik somewhat culpable for what happened. My God, I just don’t get it…I really love the game of hockey, but this type of garbage makes it really difficult.

    Now, what isn’t mentioned and I think should be is the fact that Neal took in what my opinion was a blatant run at Marchand’s head with his knee…while not as vile and disgusting as Thorton’s assault on Orpik, it is also an extremely dirty play as well…

    Thanks again.

    Randy in RVA.

  37. Jandy says:

    Well said, Jester. Same thing could be said if a stick is used a weapon and swung at an unprotected head or neck.

  38. Jandy says:

    in this case yes lol

  39. pattonbb says:

    Great article. Unfortunately nobody outside of the 6 or 7 hockey cities will hear anything about it.

  40. theplanisworking says:

    I remember when Ciccarelli swung a stick at a North Stars head.
    He was given a slap on the wrist, and that was it.

    They tried to prosecute him, but nothing.

  41. theplanisworking says:

    And fewer will care.

    THAT is the saddest part……..

  42. chethejet says:

    I hope Boston and every Canadian Hockey franchise goes another twenty years without a Stanley Cup.

  43. jerry peoples says:

    this is why i hate hometown yinzers. im not going to do a quick scan of your past articles but im willing to bet when cooke went on his own little rampage you didnt have this kind of outrage. what cooke did in the past was nothing compared to this.

    was it a dirty play? yes. but a crime? surely lunacy has taken over.

  44. Jaxmeier says:

    Crap like this I a major reason I don’t go out if my way to watch hockey. I am old enough to remember pure skill hockey, the 1980 Olympics, where there was not one fight. Call me a purist, but the NHL is a barbaric joke.

  45. I agree with Dejan. As soon as I saw this I thought he should be suspended for life.
    This gives hockey a much worse name.

  46. Bizrow says:

    It was a mugging, pure and simple, do that in a bar and you are in the clink.

    All the other stuff is irrelevant to that act.

  47. Dave G says:

    Yet the league institutes no-touch icing like they are doing everyone a favor, to try to curtail injuries.

    Even Don Cherry was practically speechless tonight. Which is next to impossible.

  48. MikeLegacy says:

    There are never fights in the Olympics, but some of the worst hits and most vicious times were in the 80’s and 90’s so I’m not really sure what you are talking about.

  49. Jsgceg says:

    Hey Dejan. How about that filthy knee by Neal? Accidental right? Settle down. All Orpik has to do is drop the gloves like a man and it’s over. Even if he turtles, like he surely would. Good lord.

  50. Graham says:

    I say new rule is… Let the refs review it, if they deem that the player wasn’t able to defend or protect himself the game is forfeit. refund the fan money. suspend player without pay for season… that would end that.

  51. DaveBrown says:

    The CRIME is that it didn’t happen to Neal.

  52. Joni says:

    Agree with everything you wrote, Randy. Especially with Neal’s knee to the head – what was he thinking?

  53. Ed says:

    So if this is a crime than what do you call the hits where Matt Cooke ended multiple guys careers? Oh right, that gets a blind eye. Wake up

  54. No1B4Me says:

    All this and yet no mention of James Neal’s deliberate knee to the head shot on Marchand. Typical.

  55. Joni says:

    You know something is up when Cherry speaks negatively about one of the players he likes.

  56. DJ says:

    If nothing else, the owners deserve what they will get in the latest players suit for the effects of concussions.

    I’m sure a large number of them begin with fights or sucker punches such as the one against Orpik.

  57. Ryan Sequin says:

    What James Neal did was a crime. You can’t knee a guy in the face on purpose in the street and get away with it. Bottom line is penguins took 1 too many liberties with the Bruins skill players. If Brad Marchand hit Crosby like that Mario would be crying

  58. Colonel Angus says:

    The NHL talks about cleaning up the game and then stuff like this happens. Makes me want to puke.

    Unfortunately, it’s tough for anyone from Pittsburgh to say anything after the things Matt Cooke did.

  59. Joni says:

    By whom? Several posters (myself included) noted Neal’s dirty play.
    Was it Marchand who was hit? I put my feelings about (against) Brad M. aside and wish him well after Neal’s knee to the head.

  60. Graham says:

    Cooke happened during the course of play. The whistle wasn’t blown. Scott Stevens is in the hall of fame for doing what Cooke got suspended This, Bertuzzi, Mcsorley, and Brashear were all blatant attacks with intent to do no more than harm another player.

  61. Jandy says:

    Those hits by Cookie (not excusing him) were either legal , or made during PLAYING THE GAME. Not a deliberate attack against someone who was not ready or able to defend himself. Let’s compare apples to oranges please.

  62. Bizrow says:

    IMHO, other acts by other people are not relevant to the blind side attack

  63. Joni says:

    I think your idea about having the offending player sit out as many games as the injured player and more is a very good idea, BillW.

  64. Dave G says:

    I’ve seen Olympic hockey. I’ve seen how good and how fun hockey can really be.

    It’s time to clean up this league.

  65. Jandy says:

    Brad Marchand does that to players….any players…every game. Please.

  66. Jandy says:

    see my comments to Ed above…

  67. Jandy says:

    always a comedian

  68. theplanisworking says:

    Those on here attempting to justify Thornton’s crime, by saying Neal was equally at fault, need to wake up.

    Neals knee was bad, Thorntons mugging was way worse.

    But I am laying odds that Neal gets 10 games, and Thornton gets nothing.

  69. Jandy says:

    Please….get real.

  70. theplanisworking says:

    Marchand and Thornton get away with murder every game.
    And it doesnt take much to figure out why.

  71. Joni says:

    What do you mean be “it” should have happened to Neal?
    I hope you speak of Thornton’s game misconduct/probable suspension and not the actual assault on Orpik…

  72. theplanisworking says:

    @RobRossi_Trib: Orpik is back with ‪#‎pens‬, will fly home with team. Bylsma said he was knocked out on the ice. Neal said knee was unintentional

  73. Ray Reed says:

    To those talking about Cooke and Neal, may I remind you that 2 seasons ago, NBC/Comcast Cryers player Bradon Schenn cross-checked from behind Sidney Crosby during a stoppage in play to review if a Penguins goal had been missed. Schenn received neither a penalty at the time of the incident or any fine or suspension after the game.

    Will you all agree that Schenn should have been penalized for his actions then?

  74. Joni says:

    Should be “by” and not “be” up in my response to DaveBrown..

  75. hockeymonster says:

    Cooke isn’t a bertuzzi or brashear or mcsorley…this was. If you can’t see the difference you missing the point.

  76. Jandy says:

    Like I said, Monster Mash, lots of comedians here

  77. doug dinberg says:

    Appropriate that this sneak attack after whistle assault occurred on December 7. A game that will live in infamy.

  78. Linda Rattenni says:

    Spot on, Dejan! I’ve loved this sport for better than half of my life. I’m sickened by what’s going on in it now.

  79. Joni says:

    Thank goodness Orpik is able to fly home.

  80. Mike says:

    Yeah, cause sucker punching someone during a stoppage and then punching them when they are prone (after you sucker punched them) is totally manly.

  81. hockeymonster says:

    Why didn’t thornton get even with a clean hit? Cuz he couldn’t catch orpik…cuz he’s a bum. So like the knuckledragging coward he is he slew foots him. Neal could’ve avoided contact and Clarkson could’ve not slew footed scuderi and so on so on. At some point surely we can agree that the game can stay between the whistles.

  82. Purple Moose says:

    The team should also play with one less roster player while their player is under suspension, so the Bruins should only be allowed to dress 19 players for employing such a goon, just as the Penguins should have played with 19 while Cooke was suspended.

  83. theplanisworking says:

    Yet even more ammunition for Bettman to do nothing.
    “See, he flew home with the team”. ” He was faking it!!!”.
    I can just see it now………

  84. theplanisworking says:


  85. KJ says:

    I agree with much of what you say…but what Varlamov did has nothing to do with hockey…it is a legal thing and should be handled in that matter . Varlamov has not been found guilty…I think everyone over reacts and starts pointing fingers…look at your own lives…he who is without sin…cast the first stone.

    DK: I’ll do whatever I want with that stone comfortable with the knowledge of never having beaten a woman to the point she is so badly bruised the police have to charge me.

    Not suggesting Varlamov goes to jail. Just that he sure as hell shouldn’t be playing hockey.

  86. Jandy says:


  87. Tim Lucas says:

    Absolutely right Dejan…

    How can we continue to watch this brutality and label it as sport? Ban fighting in hockey!!!!

  88. radio wave says:

    Following the hockey news on Twitter tonight. Hardly a mention of this, they seem more concerned with the Maple leafs game.

  89. jerry peoples says:

    cookes hits were legal?

    DK: Cooke was a cheap-shot artist who was very nearly run out of town here not only by the owner and the media but even the fan base.

    Get a clue before spouting nonsense.

  90. Jandy says:

    indeed….most of them were until about the last two. But, I digress. What Thornton did wasn’t a hit…it was an assault.

  91. Reasonable James says:

    What Thornton did here is no worse that what Neal did to Marchand earlier in the game. This is hockey, people. This is what they signed up for. When Eriksson was taken out earlier in the game by a dirty hit, the retaliation by Thornton is something that becomes obvious to expect. This is almost akin to asking for assault charges for a dirty punch in a box match.

    DK: ‘This is what they signed up for.’

    Yes. To be blindsided backward to the ice, then suckerpunched at least twice while being visibly unconscious.

    Ever occur to any of you that there’s a REASON Thornton was borderline inconsolable after this game, and even while being escorted off the ice?

    Really, is rooting for the home team that damned important?

    Grow up a little.

  92. What a horrible act by thornton.. this is just an organization allowing this crap to take place. And Buttman needs to act on this real fast.

  93. Solar7 says:

    I agree with this article, and wish fighting were entirely eliminated from hockey (much more severe penalties for doing so), but the Varlamov situation is irrelevant, and Kovacevic is actually wrong about expecting anyone to keep Varlamov from playing. If I’m accused by my wife of abusing her, guilty or not, I’m still allowed to work; still *expected* to work. There would be considerable legal and ethical concerns if my employer told me not to show to work, and didn’t pay me as well. They (the employer) would look foolish if I ended up being found not guilty of the charges, or they were otherwise dropped or possibly lessened.

    And why is the mere *accusation* of an assault and charges being pressed *therefore* sufficient reason to conclude anything one way or another? Even the evidence presented in the Varlamov case could be reasonably be explained by innocent circumstances.

    Sorry to go on about Varlamov, but it cheapens legitimate argument to make faulty use of his situation.

    DK: No, the only ramifications in a private employment situation is whether or not you’d collect unemployment. Otherwise, a private employer can fire you for any reason — or no reason at all — they please.

    Ask the NFL or the Patriots why they haven’t waited for Aaron Hernandez’s trial. Then ask if Hernandez is being paid off his current contract.

  94. This guy knows little about the game of hockey..”this is what they signed up for’ cut me a break..go watch bowling !

  95. Bizrow says:

    What does Matt Cooke have to do with tonight?

    What does Ulf Samuelsson have to do with tonight?


    Come on, this was a pure mugging.

    DK: You’re seeing the pattern, Biz: Distract, distract.

  96. Reasonable James says:

    Yes, this is exactly what they signed up for. I assume you are one of those people who was on the “player side” during the whole concussion lawsuit against the NFL. The fundamental question is this, if they had known that this is what happens and WILL eventually happen if they are able to stay in the league long enough, would they have done it again. 99% of the time, they would. Hockey is a contact sport. People do not like to be hit. “Don’t poke the bear.”

    DK: Good Lord. Never mind.

  97. Mark Earnest says:

    Orpik is is an talented olympic level player and Thornton is a 4th line goon, why should Orpik have to fight him? Skating away from that joker in disgust is the correct response.

  98. Bizrow says:

    +++++++ Dejan

    ++++++, thats all I will say

  99. theplanisworking says:

    Do you being brought down from behind, then assaulted, “contact sport”? Wow.

    A hit from the front, or side, yes.
    James, you are not being reasonable here………..

  100. mc says:


    i think you may have a concussion, your off your rocker

    DK: The boneheaded misuse of

    is so common you almost get to the point of not noticing it anymore. But when it’s two words apart from the correct usage, it’s astonishing.

  101. Jandy says:


  102. Jandy says:

    And it’s a ROYAL BOLD REAMING!!!!

  103. Shauna Caudill says:

    It is easy to look at this as an isolated incidence and judge it as such….however, it should be looked at for the lifelong, life-shortening, and life-altering implications it may/ or probably will have.

    Change the game! Or be held responsible!

  104. theplanisworking says:


  105. Reasonable James says:

    This is an overreaction without the use of the context of the situation. When Eriksson was laid out and taken from the game, was that not a “crime?” This was NOT an unforeseeable, shocking, or even surprising act by Thornton. If it was, it would have been given the attention on the ice that it deserved. There was no outrage by either side afterwards, just a tough, gritting effort on both sides which lead to one hell of a game. Thornton reacted to the kill shot on Eriksson. Enough said.

  106. Jandy says:

    Ciccarelli is another animal. Put him in a locked cage.

  107. theplanisworking says:

    Eriksson was not drug down from behind, he was hit with a clean check. Orpik did not sucker punch Eriksson.

    You are doing one of two things here….

    1) You are confusing the two actions as the same, or
    2) You are trying to excuse Thornton’s actions.

    Either way, you are wrong.
    Hitting someone defenseless from behind is not the same as a check within the rules.

  108. Jandy says:

    Only a p*ssy hits someone like that…not a man.

  109. theplanisworking says:

    Jandy, I am not even going to correct your spelling on this one.

    So much for me going to bed, eh?
    Couldnt sleep, LOL

  110. Jandy says:

    lol my friend. I am going soon…have another busy day tomorrow. Gotta get my tree up!

  111. Aaron says:

    Great post. Thornton should get 20, Neal should get 10. I crave more for both, but won’t occur under dinosaurs. In fact, it’ll be more like 10 & 5.

  112. theplanisworking says:

    A Charlie Brown tree? ;)

    Good Night again, and good luck tomorrow.

  113. mc says:

    Is this better? You are off your rocker.

  114. John K. says:

    Bertuzzi, Brashear. You forgot Cooke. Oops..he was a Penguin.

  115. Scott says:

    Neanderthals do indeed use computers.

  116. Unbiased Hockey Fan (not just a Pens fan only) says:

    If you think that’s a crime, Dejan, then what do you consider Neal intentionally skating into a prone Marchand’s head? What is your opinion of Orpik targeting the head of Ericksson that was the initial spark in all of this? Were you as outraged at those two things that was that directly led to Thornton doing what he did? There is no excuse for what Thornton did…but there is no excuse for what both Neal and Orpik did prior….especially Neal (check out his comments in the post-game were he basically admitted he was trying to skate into Marchand….but then “qualified” it by saying he wasn’t going for his head). There was no excuse for any of these players actions…Orpik, Neal and Thornton…not just Thornton. And all fit the mold of a “crime” as you say. Also, I hate to break it to you but courts DO indeed look at prior behavior.

  117. Dave Dickson says:

    Your hate for all Yinzers is misplaced. Dejan tells it like it is. He ripped the Pens for their antics against Philly in the 2012 playoffs. In this article he outlined several other incidents that the league has swept under the rug. Also, the Pens as an organization told Cooke he was done if he didn’t reform. Your retort seems to paint you as a hometown Beantown fan.

  118. Bizrow says:

    100 wrongs do not make one act right.

    Ever get mugged?

    This stuff has to stop, its not in the heat of battle, the guy came in and sucker punched him at least twice

  119. Unbiased Hockey Fan (not just a Pens fan only) says:

    He also forgot Ulf, Kasparitis and Armstrong, too. Plus, Orpik has his own history of questionable hits, as well. I love the Pens….but they, like every other team in any sport, are not exactly innocent, either. Pens fans are starting to get just as annoying, obnoxious and biased as Steeler fans.

  120. theplanisworking says:

    Biz, you get the gold star today for this.

  121. Unbiased Hockey Fan (not just a Pens fan only) says:

    Not true, Dejan, the rules regarding reasons for dismissal are different in each state. Also, using Hernandez as an example is a very poor choice. 1) NFL contracts are not guaranteed and have different character clauses in them (obviously NFL players are more prone to be arrested than, say, hockey players); 2) The NFLPA is one of the most pathetic and capitulating unions in any form of employment, not just in sports. If something similar happened in baseball they’d sue and would more than likely win; 3) The Patriots play in Massachusetts. Different state and different rules regarding employment and dismissal than Pennsylvania’s.

    DK: Almost everything you just wrote there is wrong, Mr. Impartial.

  122. PR says:

    Sorry to sad it but everyone that pays money to go to a game aides this behavior. It is simple send a message by not going to the games until something changes. But I know people won’t do that so why keep complaining? I didn’t see the game but from what I can tell Neal is no better with his knee to the head either.

  123. Kris says:

    They also need to stop calculating the length of suspension based on actual injury – it should be potential/likely injury. I.e. if you clock someone in the head with clear intent, then if that person is lucky and doesn’t get hurt, you shouldn’t get less of a penalty. You got LUCKY, you shouldn’t benefit from that if the goal is the make people stop playing in a way that’s dangerous.

  124. Michael Brourman says:

    The problem with your premise is that it assumes Bettman has guts, courage and a backbone which has been hidden from public view throughout his disastrous tenure. The reality is that he has none of the three.

  125. Unbiased Hockey Fan (not just a Pens fan only) says:

    Well, if it is then illustrate that instead of just saying it’s wrong.

  126. Bizrow says:

    What exactly does Orpik have to do with this???

  127. Bizrow says:

    Agreed, it almost makes you wish this was run like the NFL

  128. Mike says:

    Lets just start with the fact that both of your examples happened during play, not during a stoppage. Lets continue with the fact that Oprik’s hit of Ericksson was a totally clean (if hard) body shot. He never hit his head. Shoulder into body with the man on the puck. It was hard, but clean.

    The Neal hit is definitely questionable, but it is questionable.

    What isn’t questionable is a man suckerpunching another from behind and then continuing to hit him once he hits the ground.

  129. Bizrow says:

    No, really, its just people trying to legitimize a simple mugging.

    An act of meditated violence.

    In the NHL, I guess its legal.

    And that is a shame for what this game could be

  130. Unbiased Hockey Fan (not just a Pens fan only) says:

    They have everything to do with this. You wanna go all nutball and call this a crime without even realizing that laws and the application of laws, court cases and verdicts are all based on precedent.

  131. jonathan says:

    Actually, it should be, “you are off OF your rocker.” Carry on.

  132. jonathan says:

    “directly led…” This is the problem. What James Neal did should be punished. However, nothing should lead to someone being slewfooted and defenselessly punched in the face especially outside of the whistle. (Also, I do not believe this has anything to do with fighting inside of the game of hockey. These are all non fighting incidents, so that really is not the issue.)

  133. Bizrow says:

    Don’t say this often, but go away, your post is pretty far out there, actually ridiculous

    Good tidings, don’t come back

  134. theplanisworking says:

    Remember Biz, in life, some people always blame the victim, or try to excuse the offender. I have seen it so many times….

  135. Michele says:

    VERY VERY WELL STATED…….. as you said, what is it going to take, a death of a player for anyone to really open their eyes to these senseless acts of evil. This was not an accident.. it was not a typical altercation…… it was a blatant attack from behind on a fellow player. We as a society expect our athletes to be role models to our children.. and if this is how the NHL condones this type of action from these role models, THAN THAT IS A DISCRACE.

  136. Ryan says:

    As soon as I saw the words crime all capitalized after clicking on the story through Zite I knew this had to be a Pittsburgh sports writer. The very same person this “crime” was committed on had previously left his feet and made contact with his shoulder to the head of the Bruins player and that was not called. Oh it will be looked at by the league and I am sure Orpik will also be fined but the only actual “crime” in this game was the horrible officiating which allowed the game to spiral out of control. All that was needed was one more non-call to send everyone over the edge and we got that when Neal put his knee into Marchand’s head as he skated by the fallen player. Tempers boiled over and Orpik…who would rather flail around hitting people in the head than stand up and face Thornton …got punched in the head and knocked out. Did Thornton over react? He sure did. And he rightfully deserves his coming suspension. But this is hockey. When the men in stripes on the ice can’t control the game the players on both sides will do so themselves. There have been many “crimes” the Penguins players inflicted on other teams …some of them career ending “crimes.” It’s writers such as yourself who can’t see through the goon fog of the team you cover that love to start calling the kettle black when it happens to one of their own. There were dirty hits all over the ice tonight and both teams will be penalized from the league. Cool it with your “crime” talk Atticus.

  137. Michele says:

    and as continuing to read posts…. I agree.. Hockey is a contact sport and hits are going to happen… whether clean or dirty hits.. fines and/or penalties are added for the protection of the players. I get it…. that is the game.. I don’t condone it to change as far as regular play. But when someone comes from behind and blatantly hurts someone not in a play, that is wrong.

  138. Scott says:

    How can Orpik drop gloves when he is attacked from behind by a thug coward, thrown to the ice without even knowing what happened, and then has his head slammed between a fist and the ice knocking him out. Way to call him a wimp after he was the victim of a senseless and cowardly assault. I guess you could stand up to that… I wish we could all be as manly as you must be. I guess you approve of cowardly attacks.

  139. Ace says:

    Trib columns aren’t going to win the Pens another Cup. But, maybe, someone in the lineup that the rest of the league is scared of will. Who is that on the Pens?
    Once the outrage fades, let’s wonder why the Pens insist on getting into slugging matches with a team in the league that has the best combination of intimidation, size, and skill.
    We Americans have football as a reference point. But hockey is not football. It doesn’t stay between the whistles and never has. Maybe has something to do with sticks.
    The choice is: change the game, or beat the Bruins at their own game. Which do you think is more likely to happen?

  140. Deb Mariano says:

    Spot on with the article once again Dejan.My love for hockey is so deep, but this cowardly act last night made me sick to my stomach .This craziness makes me want to give up on hockey altogether. Can hardly wait to see what comes of this. In the back of my mind I have a feeling we know already………..

  141. Ray says:

    I’m getting tired reading all those comments advocating Thornton’s form of vigilante justify.

    THE authority on the ice (as on the field of play of other sports) are the officials (the guys in the black and white shirts). If they do not call a penalty, it is not for the players to take matters into their own hands as Thornton.

    If the officials did, in fact, miss making the correct call on Orpik’s hit on Eriksson, it then falls on the league office to administer discipline from fines to suspensions.

    Again, it is not to be the players taking matters into their own hands. IF Boston believes they or their player has been wronged by a missed call, then they have the option to submit their evidence to the league office for further review.

    The real issue that Dejan is commenting on is that this garage league office continually drops the ball when it comes to administering both the rules and the code of conduct on its players and others. If the commish was Roger Goodell, both the on-ice and off-ice incidents would begin dropping off because acts like Thornton’s and Varlamov’s would have been disciplined much like Adam Pacman Jones, Ben Roethlisberger, Albert Haynesworth, and Ndamukong Suh to name a few have been.

  142. Kathy says:

    Think about what you wrote………NOW think about what would happen to YOU if YOU did this to someone at your job? This has nothing to with being a professional……no professional outside of the sports arena would get away with this obvious intent to harm….arrested and charged is what would happen to you……

  143. Nivik Radoy says:

    Great column, agree 100%. What amazes me is that I can read in today’s Boston Herald that Thornton is the VICTIM in this case. That’s right, if Orpik had just fought Thornton, then Thornton would not have had to attack him like this. I saw this sort of deranged commentary from idiots on blogs and message boards, but to see it in print in the Boston Herald stuns me. Whatever you think of Orpik’s hit on Eriksson, there is no sane reason why a Boston player needed to fight Orpik to “avenge” the hit. That’s just crazy. What the hell would that accomplish? Boston would now feel better? Idiotic and kindergarten logic.

  144. alex says:

    After having coached pee wee and middle school hockey I can say without a doubt that kids that age see stuff like this as acceptable behavior in hockey. Last weekend I was at the wbs pens vs Hershey game and there was a local pee wee team sitting a few rows behind me. There was a fight two minutes into the game and from that point on, after every whistle, the kids would stand up and scream for someone to fight. Sadly, some of their parents were yelling just as much as their kids were for fighting. I guess Gary is OK with having raving maniacle 10 year olds in the stands screaming for blood.

  145. NHL Defender says:

    where do you start when responding to an article like this? I guess you’re entitled to write what you did, and entitled to an opinion. but that’s all it is, an opinion. what happened in the game last night (thornton’s incident) was most certainly unjustified and out of line. he will be dealt with by the league and the proper discipline will be imposed. To call that act a crime and to slam the nhl is simply wrong, in my opinion. Throughout history, look at any of the 4 major sports and you can find countless incidents of ugliness where humans made the wrong decision and reacted emotionally which resulted in “crossing the line” or even causing harm & some degree of injury. How many “assault and battery” charges have EVER been levied? None that I know of. This was an instance of over reacting and breaking rules established within the game/league. Thornton will be handled as all the others have, with disciplinary action handed down by league officials who are in place to do their job. For anyone out there who doesn’t like the nhl because of the fighting, or think it’s “barbaric” or some other adjective du jour, just watch college or high school etc where fighting isn’t allowed. If you don’t understand it, don’t agree, don’t want to see it, then don’t watch. The nhl is a tremendous league, that has intricacies and nuances to it that most don’t even notice, understand, or care about. If you can’t look at the league in the big picture, and understand it holistically, then that is your issue. But for those of us who do, and appreciate it, I felt the need to come on here and post. Hopefully orpik is ok, I believe he will be. It was unfortunate.

  146. Nivik Radoy says:

    A hit like Orpik’s on Eriksson happens weekly in the NHL, if not daily. It’s just bad luck that Eriksson appears to be susceptible to concussions. I agree with TSN/McKenzie on the hit: “Orpik’s hit on Eriksson was hockey play, could’ve been minor for interference, but well within context of game action. Orpik shouldn’t necessarily be obliged to answer the bell to Thornton on that hit. It wasn’t that egregious.” I particularly agree with his assessment that idea Orpik was somehow obliged to fight Thornton is insane.

  147. Andrew says:

    Yes the Thorton hit was bad, he deserves a hefty suspension. But if you want to make a witch hunt about what Thorton did you need to also look at what Neal did to Marchand prior to the play. The replay clearly shows Neal looking at a downed Marchand, then extending his knee right into Marchand’s head. Both plays were egregious, don’t belong in hockey and should see equal suspensions.

  148. Andrew says:

    well put Ryan. When I see the writing as CRIME it makes me think of all the Montreal Canadian fans who called Montreal police after the unfortunate hit Chara had on Pacioretty. Tempers got out of control and both teams had a player with a “dirty” hit.

  149. BigMac says:


  150. Like birth teams says:

    A point that seems to be missing/understated…

    Should Coach Julien bare some responsibility/punishment? Clean or dirty…the Bs bench was clearly livid after Orpik hit Ericsson. I’ll let someone w a DVR correct me, but it looked like Thorton was on the ice going after Orpik at least 2-3 times from the 19-min mark until he finally got his chance at the 9-10(?)min mark.

    Thorton was clearly frustrated that Orpik wouldn’t drop gloves earlier, and took every opportunity to target Orpik until the ugly incident. There was plenty of time for Thorton to cool down and/or Julien to rein his player in. At best, Julien condoned the behavior. At worst, he ordered it.

  151. george kulakowski says:

    When i saw my first professsional hockey gane the pittsburgh team was called the Hornets. My first season tickets were for the 1969-70 season. i saw every home game michele Briere played and worked for 5 years as an usher at the old Civic Arena. I have seen a LOT of hockey. When i was young i thrilled at the sight of a fight, loving it when my hero dispatched the villain from the other team. But, a curious thing happened as the years passed. I grew up. I matured as a human being. I began to recognize the evil done to this wonderous sport by the goons and thugs and the leaders who perpetuated and legitimized this barbaric conduct. Hockey must ban fighting for the good of the game. Your assessment , Mr K., is accurate.

  152. mikeep says:

    He only gota 5 min major it should have been 10. That was absolutly rediculous and should be thrown out of the league. He is garbage and should be thrown in the trash compactor like garbage.

  153. Jsnider says:

    I’ve played the sport for many years and have seen many instances where the game takes a terrible turn like what happened to Brooks Orpic. In this day and age there is absolutely no place in the sport for what ShawnThornton did and he should be prosecuted. However, the most appalling part of watching this horrific and cowardly act was listening to the NHL Network announcers try to make a case for why what Thornton did was justified. They made it sound like it was OK because it’s an “emotional game” and he was trying to be a “good teammate”. Really?? Unbelievable! I hope they get the chance to hear what they said and hear how stupid they sound! There is no place in any sport for this type of behavior. It’s ruining the game and needs to stop.

  154. Roger says:

    This article is atrocious… What Neal did to Marchand was FAR AND AWAY more egregious than what Thornton did. If the injuries were reversed, and Marchand had been the one being carted off, what would people be saying? While the resulting injury from an illegal hit should be considered, the intent of that play is much more important IMO. It shouldn’t matter than Marchand was not seriously hurt, the potential was there. Likewise, Thornton lost his cool, and shouldn’t have acted as he did. That being said, had Orpik not been caught on the chin, this discussion wouldn’t even be happening. Did Thornton cross the line? Absolutely, and he should be suspended. However, Neal is a repeat offender (suspended 2 or 3 times over the past 4 seasons), and clearly has a history of dirty play.

    On a side note, and going back to the initial play of Orpik on Eriksson, I would love to hear the reaction of Penguins fans had the identical situation happened with Boychuk or Chara on Crosby.

  155. Roger says:

    Orpik had a chance to drop the gloves earlier in the period when he was initially challenged by Thornton… but clearly you did not watch this game, and really shouldn’t be commenting when you only have short video clips and headlines to base your opinion on.

    While it is questionable whether Orpik’s hit on Eriksson was clean, it was a hard check that caused a head injury to a top-line forward. When you implement that type of check to a star player, clean or not, you should expect retribution. Orpik had the chance to answer the bell, and he didn’t. I guarantee that if the sweaters were reversed, and someone like Boychuk hit Crosby in an identical situation, the Penguins would have retaliated. The difference is that the Bruins would have agreed to fight, and the score would’ve been settled.

  156. Roger says:

    Orpik shouldn’t throw borderline head shots if he doesn’t want retaliation. I’m sure you think his hit on Erik Cole was clean too, and something else he shouldn’t have to respond to.

  157. aglebagel says:

    Ryan, since you’re new to Kovacavic’s columns, I can inform you that he has been harshly criticizing similar actions long before it happened to a Penguins player.

  158. gmuny2002 says:

    Great article Dejan! Keep up the good work!

  159. DJ says:

    Your entire point begins with the false premise that Orpik left his feet to make contact with Eriksson. He didn’t. Take a look at the slow motion footage above posted by Unbiased (so-called) Fan. Watch it carefully several times over. You will see Orpik has both skates on the ice at initial contact. He skates come off the ice only after contact was made. It was a legal hit.

    So your argument boils down to Orpik should have fought Thornton for a legal hit and if he had he would not have been sucker-punched. Very stupid.

  160. Ray says:

    What is also amazing about many of the comments here is how easy it is for people to point to one (or more) example(s) of bad behavior to justify Thornton’s obviously bad behavior.

    As I stated in my previous comment, there is or should be NO room for vigilante justice anywhere in our society including our sports. Period.

    That IS the point of Dejan’s column.

  161. twentytwo22 says:

    Orpik got what he had coming. You can only hit and run for so long before you cross paths with the wrong player on the wrong team on the wrong night and get it.

    For some reason Orpik thought he had reached a point in his career and that he was above answering for his hits. Earlier in his career he fought 2 or 3 times every year because of his style. There is no stature or status you reach as a player where you are beyond the justice of the teams whose players you injure. Last night he found out he has no stature. Hopefully the incident changes him for the better.

    His well spoken nature and the fact that the media are in his corner has masked the fact that Orpik is a dishonorable player. Shawn Thornton has a better reputation around the league than he does.

    Thornton should get 20 games because it was a cheap shot. Orpik turned down Thornton once and then it looked like he was tangled up with Gregori Campbell, who is a little better of a fighter than Craig Adams, and turned him down. It is easy to see why Thornton snapped.

    Quick Brooks Orpik rap sheet just the stuff that came to mind right away
    Blew out Tim Gleason’s knee in the season opener against the Kings (MAF’s debut)
    Broke Erik Cole’s neck
    Concussion to the Rangers Artem Anisimov
    Knee hit to Rangers’ Chris Krieder
    Knee hit to Rangers’ Derek Stepan
    Concussion to Loui Eriksson

    Not enough of this (from 12/11/06):
    2 13:42 HIT (!) PIT EV 44 ORPIK
    2 13:47 PENALTY WSH – 47 MUIR, Fighting (maj), 5 min
    2 13:47 PENALTY PIT – 44 ORPIK, Game misconduct, 10 min
    2 13:47 PENALTY PIT – 44 ORPIK, Fighting (maj), 5 min
    2 13:47 PENALTY PIT – 37 RUUTU, Misconduct (10 min), 10 min
    2 13:47 PENALTY PIT – 37 RUUTU, Fighting (maj), 5 min
    2 13:47 PENALTY PIT – 37 RUUTU, Instigator, 2 min
    2 13:47 PENALTY WSH – 47 MUIR, Game misconduct, 10 min
    2 13:47 PENALTY WSH – 47 MUIR, Roughing, 2 min
    2 13:47 PENALTY WSH – 21 LAICH, Fighting (maj), 5 min

    and too much of this (from 4/5/12):
    15:21 PIT Brooks Orpik Kneeing (maj) against Derek Stepan
    15:21 PIT Brooks Orpik Game misconduct

    “It’s a cheap, dirty hit. I wonder what would happen if we did it to their two whining stars, wonder what would happen?” Tortorella said, in an apparent reference to Crosby and NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin. “So I’m anxious to see what happens with the League. There’s no respect amongst players. None. ”

    Rangers goalie Martin Biron was nearly as angry as Tortorella, saying, “It was pretty gutless and dirty. That guy is known for sticking his knee out, his elbow, I don’t really care what he says in defense of what he did. It was dirty.”

  162. Sarah says:

    Neal has a phone conf w the league, which generally means 5 games or less.
    Thornton has an in person conf, which generally means 6 games or more.

    It’s truly nauseating to read the contortions people are going through to try justify Thornton’s actions.

  163. Rob G says:

    If we take what you say as the way it should be done then each team should have a semi talented “goon” that off the opening face off should challenge the star player from the other team and the star player can’t or shouldn’t skate away but should fight and be in the sin bin or hospital. Doesn’t sound like a “game” I want to watch

  164. twentytwo22 says:

    Orpik is a UFA after the season and should not be brought back. He makes himself a target and his teammates a target. Bon voy-a-gee.

  165. DJ says:

    On your side note, what I would like to see is a side view of Orpik’s hit on Eriksson since that would tell more of the story. Someone posted above that Orpik’s skates left the ice to hit Eriksson. That didn’t happen. Orpik’s skates don’t come off the ice until after contact is made. He didn’t launch himself into Eriksson, as some have suggested.

    Eriksson’s head does snap back. It is unclear what’s the first point of contact on both players because we cannot see either Orpik’s arms in front of him or if, as Eriksson is slightly turning, if Eriksson’s right shoulder contacts Orpik’s right shoulder first. A side view would likely be definitive. What is clear, however, is that Oprik was targeting Eriksson’s upper body on the hit and not his head. Here’s the video (go to the :44 second mark).

    I agree that Neal did not make an effort to pull his knee in on Marchand. And, to your point, we have seen something similar happen to Crosby, when David Steckel made no effort to pull his shoulder back while headed up ice, which began Sid’s concussion problems. Here it is:

    I have the same reaction to both of those two hits. I thought they were both very bad and warranted penalties.

  166. Thundercrack says:

    I too like a lot of other people liked fighting in hockey when I was younger. Now I can’t stand it and don’t understand why people still think it needs to be part of the game. And especially after we know the long term effects it has had on players. Which I also can’t understand why players don’t want to look out for each other. Oh I forgot, fighting polices the game so they do think they are looking out for each other.

    I only saw some of the 2nd & 3rd periods of last night’s game. When I see the replay of what happened to Orpik, not only is it totally uncalled for, but it looks to me that Orpik is in a position that he is unable to defend himself

  167. DJ says:

    It’s one thing to try to make a point, which I respect.

    It’s quite another to use any quote from John Tortorella to help make it. Silly.

  168. Tony says:

    Thornton absolutely should be suspended here. Maybe 2 or 3 games maximum. He did hit him from behind. But it honestly wasn’t that bad. I think orpik was selling it a little bit. And I love how Pittsburg is acting all gung-ho against this kind of stuff. Remember Matt Cooke? Dejan is completely wrong and way off base with his article. It’s hockey. Emotions run high and things happen. Not saying Thornton should have done what he did but the only reason you people are so up in arms over it is because one of your players got hurt.

  169. Garrett says:

    Except it was a clean hit. And last time I checked clean hits were allowed in the league. Or did I not hear of a new rule. Clearly if Boston wanted to get back at Pittsburgh in a normal way they would have made a CLEAN hit on Pittsburgh. Not a criminal act. It is disgusting that you think Orpik should have ‘manned’ up for something he didn’t even implement. He simply put on a clean hit. If you go by those terms every two seconds there would be a fit because of a clean hit in the game. And you know plain and simple Orpik is not going to fit for no reason.

  170. theplanisworking says:

    Orpik was selling it?


    Credibilty………. gone!

  171. John Linko says:

    If no action is taken, Mario’s now historic ‘garage league’ comment now rings true again.

  172. hockeymonster says:

    Wow biz, way to drop the hammer. Orpik is one of the cleanest hitters i’ve ever seen. He’s always gone out of his way to make sure his hits are shoulder to shouler, elbows down, knees no further apart than shoulders and in general face to face more so from behind or blind spot. Im insulted on his behalf that people think that the occasional injury from clean hits justify or is somehow a form of karma coming back to him. And the 1% of his hits that are questionable is nothing compared to punks like marchand, cooke(prior to rehab), raffi torres, or even pacorietty hit on boychuk. He was victimized by a player who is only in the league cuz the cherry’s and ignorant GM’s believe he has a role.

  173. hockeymonster says:

    Good stuff, between the whistles our guys get as much as they give. Thornton crossed the line. Unfortunately the league uses a fine print line with pencil.

  174. Pittsburgh Man says:

    Grow up everyone, it is hockey. Watch the play, the ONLY thing he did wrong was punch the guy when he was on the ice…he didnt “throw” him down to the ice, get some glasses. It sucks that he got a concussion and will miss a game or two, but get real. Worse things then this happen in sports and quit crying for criminal charges, get a life, it is hockey! Orpik should take some (not the majority but some) for his cheap shot earlier that should have been a penalty (even Pittsburgh announcers agree) or for not being a man and fighting where he should have. That would have ended it. Then, you have Neal’s knee to the head…want to talk about crimes…that is NOT LEGAL on the streets either, so let’s put him in jail for 3-5 years/decades like you are all whining about too! Get a life, seriously, don’t watch hockey if you are scared to see a fight!

  175. Sarah says:

    Did I say “nauseating”?
    Yes, yes I did.

  176. Joni says:

    Good point about the B’s coach and his role/lack thereof.

  177. Sisyphus says:

    I don’t understand why people keep bringing up fighting in hockey in reference to this incident. A fight is between two players whaling away at each other. This was no fight. It was a defenseless man getting attacked from behind by a coward. A mugging, maybe, but certainly no fight.

  178. Jimondrums says:

    What about all of the senseless hits from Matt Cooke? What about when he ended Marc Savard’s career? Is this not a crime? Or is it ok because he was a Penguin? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with Thornton’s actions. However, comments like this need to be about the dirty plays from the Pens. Was James Neal’s knee to the head ok?

    DK: At some point or other, one of the many geniuses citing Matt Cooke and the reaction in Pittsburgh will actually look up some of the coverage at the time, including my own.

    Until then, they’ll continue to look silly.

  179. Nancy Bryan says:

    Hi Dejan,

    I’ve sent you e-mails before thanking you for your comments when you see bad things happening in the hockey world. This blog posting is another example of your straightforward style in calling out the heads of the NHL and the owners.

    Because I live in Wisconsin, and the game was being broadcast on a network I didn’t have access to (online or on TV), I only heard what was happening. Didn’t see any video footage until this morning. I was shocked to see what Thornton did to Brooks Orpik; that was vicious and yes, A CRIME.

    If Bettman, won’t do anything about this, is there any recourse?

  180. Nancy Bryan says:

    Um, you DO recall the suspensions that Matt Cooke received, right? And you DO recall that he was basically given the ultimatum to shape up or he would be gone, right? And while Matt Cooke did some dirty plays, I don’t recall ever seeing him sneak up behind a player, force him to the ground and pummel the crap out of him while the player just lay there.

  181. NHD says:

    Well written and spot on. I don’t agree with you most of the time Dejan, but this piece spoke to me. Well done. Too bad it falls on the ears of any idiot.

  182. Brandie says:

    What in the wide world of sports is going on here? I go away for one weekend and all hell breaks loose!

    To those trying to justify the beat down of Brooks Orpik…if you ever get jumped from behind, beaten unconscious, then beaten some more, should we assume that you are running that risk because you went outside and wanted to interact with others? Ridiculous!

    Should Neal have taken his knee to Marchand’s head? No. Get him the heck off of the ice and fine him where it hurts, take away the ability to play the game in order to settle this down.

    With the Orpik / Thornton situation, Orpik had a clean hard hit. If Thornton wants retaliation, make a clean hard hit on Orpik. Slew footing him from behind and beating him mercilessly is an act of a soulless, gutless coward. Here is hoping for a speedy recovery for Marchand and Orpik, and I hope both Neal and Thornton both get more than what they deserve!

  183. jerry peoples says:

    actually i live near pittsburgh…im just tired of yinzers crying over everything that happens against their own team.

  184. Jennifer I says:

    My oldest son is 8 and LOVES hockey. He was really, really upset by what happened. Hours after the game ended, he continued to talk about it. When I laid him down to bed, he started to cry. He recognized the act as something completely out of the ordinary, and I think he was scared to to see a grown man act this way. He did not understand it, and I can’t explain it to him. The NHL lets a lot more than fans down if this kind of thing goes unchecked, without repercussions. I agree, the act was intentional, and beyond the scope of what is or should be acceptable. It was absolutely awful.

  185. Jimondrums says:

    Dejan and Nancy,

    Dejan, sorry I don’t typically follow or read your articles, or anyone else’s for that matter. So yes, you’re right, I can’t debate with you on that.


    So because Matt Cooke and all other guilty people served their suspensions and “paid their dues” their acts are less criminal? Let’s be consistent here, Nancy.

  186. Nivik Radoy says:

    Oh great. The bloodthirsty hockey gods demand a staged fight to atone for the sins of a solid hard hit. Solves all ills. I recall just how satisfied everyone in Boston was when Cooke returned for that ridiculous travesty of a “fight”. Yep, everyone was happy and got over the Savard incident. Lunacy.

  187. Nancy Bryan says:

    Jimondrums – I didn’t say that. What I said was that you seem to think that Cooke got away with all the crap he pulled. I was just pointing out to you that this is not the case. I also see an awful lot of commenters here agreeing that Neal’s got some “dues to pay”, too. There’s nothing inconsistent about my response to you.

  188. Dave Gaudet says:

    hahaha. Wow. Quite a flair for the dramatic you have Dejan. Orpik has nobody to blame for this incident but himself. It’s not as if Thornton just attacked him out of blue he challenged him twice prior to this. Once Neal played hit and run with the knee on Marchand and hightailed it to the bench before retribution could be sought, that was the final straw and it was time for Orpik to pay the piper.

    Players don’t have the right to just attack a guy for no reason but when you play a physical game and have made a career out of freight training guys like Orpik has, in this case putting a guy who just returned to the lineup from a concussion, out with another one, I think if you’re Brooks Orpik you have to be prepared for the possibility you may be held accountable for those actions. You can man up and meet the situation head on, take the fight, likely lose it, but at least you command a bit of respect by having the backbone to stand up for your actions and face the concequences even if it means you take a few lumps but you likely come out no worse for wear when the dust settles. Or you can try and avoid accountability like a little rat, let the tention and the tempers build to a boiling point until something like this happens.

    The only acceptable get out of jail free card that would give Orpik a pass on having to deal with Thornton after that hit would have been if the Pens had a guy like Pierre Luc Leblond in their lineup to cut Shawn off at the pass and negate him before he had an opportunity to get to Orpik, leaving Brooks to answer to a guy like Greg Campbell who’s more in his league. The Penguins are stupid though. They expect the league and the rules to protect them and that expectation just can’t work in hockey. It never has, it doesn’t now, it never will. Yet Pittsburgh and a lot of other soft teams in the league continue to forgo a true enforcer and play the blame game when they get their asses handed to them everytime they get a little too big for their britches.

    You got 20 Million dollars this season alone invested in Crosby and Malkin on the bench and you waive Steve MacIntyre and bury Leblond in the minors? I wonder if Ray Shero has car insurance on the vehicle he drives? Sure the league is trying to move in the direction where enforcers are no longer needed and trying to police the game two or three days later from an office somewhere but the game is contested in the moment. Guys aren’t going to behave or respect eachother or make safe, clean decisions in the heat of the moment based on inconsistant concequences that may or may not cost them some coin, which they have a surplus of anyway, when they don’t have to worry about it until three or four days later when a verdict comes down. If there’s a true in game, in the moment consequence for cheap, dirty or dangerous plays, where a guy knows if he throws that hit or takes that shot, he’s likely going to get a punch in the mouth from a pissed off enforcer who took exception to it, most times they won’t take that shot in the first place.

    Now days these little rat scumbags like Orpik, Neal, Cooke, Marchand, etc. figure they can take the shot and hide behind the rules without having to answer to the few enforcers we have left. So much so that the enforcers can hardly do their job effectively which is why many teams are moving away from carrying one and the teams that have them find themselves in positions like this trying to do the job and perform the role expected of them in a league that frowns on accountability and protects the rats with counter productive rules like the instigator, the package, the 5 minute rule, mandatory visors etc. The mentality that “Orpik should NOT have to step up” is the problem. Yes he should. Because if he doesn’t the only other option the Bruins have to respond to their guy being concussed is to take a cheapshot back at him or another Pen. Maybe try and have Chara paste Crosby into the end boards and tell him to thank Orpik for the trip to the hospital. Maybe Marchand can get Neal back with a clip or a knee on knee hit as a payback for the knee to the head since they won’t fight. Perhaps Lucic can catch Malkin with his head down and end his season with an open ice headshot bodycheck. Let’s just keep taking runs, hitting eachother from behind, slahing, sticking, elbowing and kneeing eachother until everyone in the league has a solid concussion history to document and cry about.

    Being forced to fight instills respect for the game and accountability for your actions in those who now have free reign to cross the line whenever they feel like it. So yes, Bettman and the rules may be partly responsible for this incident but it’s because there are too many rules designed to curb fighting that you can’t just go out and settle an issue, you have to try and pick your spot and do something cheap in order to get the retribution you’re looking for. Thornton challenged Orpik and was declined but he still has a teammate who has been concussed to stand up for. So he kicks the feet out from under Orpik and gives him a a couple of gloved punches to send his message. If Orpik wasn’t bizzarely knocked out by those punches which didn’t appear to be all that vicious or devestating, he likely would have gotten two for roughing and sent his message but because Orpik was knocked out and the stretcher made an appearence the optics of the incident made it look far more serious and significant than it actually was, to the point you’ve put together such a dramatic outcry in this writeup for a lifetime banishment of a guy who was simply doing his job.

    Brooks Orpik absolutely should have stepped up and answered the bell when challenged by Thornton the first time. If he did it would have ended right there. Orpik figured the rules would protect him from accountability but he was dealing with an old school enforcer who wasn’t going to let him off the hook so easily and he ended up getting exactly what he had coming to him, a lot worse than he probably would have if he simply dropped the gloves, tucked his chin to his chest and hid under his stupid visor while the punches were flying until he mangaged to wrestle the fight to the ice. Instead he took a ride on a stretcher because he foolishly assumed the rules would protect him from accountability so he nievely failed to protect himself. I’m glad he’s ok and I hope he learned an important lesson in accountability on this night. I hope you read this response and learn an important lesson in how the game of hockey is meant to be played…”Ban him for life” hahahaha. Spare me.

    DK: All those words and, yet, so little sense.

  189. Dave Gaudet says:

    The more removed fighting becomes from the game, the more common stuff like this will become. Wait and see.

  190. DJ says:

    Congratulations, Dave. You’ve just won the “Monday Morning Write Like a Fool in 1231 Words or Less Contest.”

    “Me Shawn Thornton . . . me get paid to make sure you accountable . . . me challenge you Orpik . . . me angry you not allow me to do my job . . . me need job . . . Arghhh!”

    DK: What’s he win, DJ?

  191. DJ says:

    Fire … or a wheel. It would be the first time he’s seen either.

    DK: Ouch!

  192. Bill Ramsey says:

    Having researched and written a book on brain injuries, I know how easy it is to do permanent damage to the brain through concussion. It may not impact his life for several years but almost certainly can later. Thornton should pay a heavy price for this criminal act. The NHL is not supposed to be playing the “knock-out game.”

  193. Jandy says:

    Are you &^%$$#@ kidding me???

  194. Jandy says:

    I guess Orpik slipped and fell.

  195. Jandy says:

    They will forever look silly.


  196. Jandy says:

    One lone brain cell doesn’t cut it…

  197. Jandy says:

    an autographed, framed picture of Brooks Orpik :)

  198. Jandy says:

    What some cluelell…ummm…people are missing, is that Orpik plays a mostly clean game. Sure,. he hits hard, that’s hockey. DOn’t like it, don’t play it. To portray him as a vicious hitting machine is totally unreal.

    Orpik is getting older. He’s smarter than your average defenseman. He knows his body can’t take abuse. He doesn’t want to fight. Deal with it. He makes a hit (clean) you don’t like…then play with him, hit for hit….and see who comes out with a better record. Problem is, simple minded people feel he HAS to fight. No, he doesn’t. He’s smarter than that. The other side wants retribution? Fine, play against him and throw your legal hits. Brooksie is smart enough to know when to throw a hit and when not to.

    Being a tough NHL defenseman doesn’t include being a p*ssy and slew-footing a player down, then hitting him while he’s defenseless on the ice.
    That’s what p*ssies do, not grown men.

  199. Jandy says:

    well, Jandy disease hits again…that’s clueless. Now I am off for more coffee!

  200. Patrick Weld says:

    Thank you for this. i was taping the game and was out with friends on Saturday. While out, i received a text from espn saying Orpik was in the hostipal after being in a fight…a FIGHT…and then recieved a few other updates about Brooks’ conddition through the night…all mentioning a FIGHT.
    and i kept thinking…Brooks is a hitter, not a fighter…so maybe he was forced into a corner and had no coice but to start swinging…

    Then, i got home and watched the game…with the from-behind grab and slew-foot…and punching WITH A GLOVE STILL ON…

    sickening…just sickening.

    It is a shame when the only voice of reason coming from the incident was Don Cherry…Don freaking Cherry…NBCSports refers to it first as a fight…then an altercation…espn hasn’t a clue (no surpise ther with hockey)

    if Thorton wasn’t on the home team, the cops would have met him in the locker room al the Hanson brothers…

    Thorton is a pathetic coward, and not a hockey player, he should be gone, with some time in front of a judge.

    And Bettman should be sitting as co-defendant

  201. John says:

    I always love the “I am sorry” that you get from people like Shawn Thorton. It’s just like high school kids who get caught doing some thing and they think, “I’m Sorry” will get them off. “I’m sorry” is for something you do accidentally, not for something you do on purpose. The correct response would be, “I’m guilty.”

    And coaches like Claude Julien, who send players back out on the ice just after they had a Thorton-like response to Orpik’s hit, should be fined and suspended. He is one of the chief enablers of players who, like Thorton, can’t play a “beautiful game”, so they make up for it by looking for a chance to injure the opponent, or at least, take them out of the game.

  202. Jim S. says:

    Dejan and GM Ray hit the nail on the head regarding Neal. That was stupid, and he absolutely deserved his suspension – whether it was a first-time offense or not. What was he thinking? I’m sure Shero, Bylsma, Lemieux, etc are furious with him. As much time as he has missed with injuries, why take yourself out of games when healthy?

    Shawn Thornton should be out a long, long time. I don’t know what kind of sick mentality it takes to trip an unsuspecting player backwards, then attack him as he lies on the ice after hitting his head and begin reigning blows on him – but Shawn Thornton epitomizes it. That part of hockey has always bothered me, and it detracts from the game. It always has. This is a tough, tough sport, but there is a misconception among some who actually think hockey is a tough man’s game because of cowardly acts like that. It is a tough man’s game because of how the other 99% of the game is played, not the cheap shots.

  203. Jandy says:

    Good to see you, Jimster :)

  204. I’ve heard that Canadian fans like to purchase tapes and discs of hockey fights and play them on their holidays, which makes me think that Canadians go for hockey violence more than us American fans.

  205. Thornton will likely get only 10 days suspension at most, unfortunately, while James Neal just got 5 days suspension without pay for retaliating by kneeing Pierre Marchand, and they were lenient with James Neal since he’s no repeat offender, which I think is equally stupid.

  206. Leo Ernst says:

    This is probably the most asinine article I’ve read discussion the Thornton/Orpik misconduct. The argument that what Thornton did is a crime (I’m sorry, a CRIME) is offered only as an arbitrary judgment on how vicious the play looked– it is given no legal justification or evidence in the context of the sport.

    When Zdeno Chara was investigated by the police for his injury to Max Pacioretty– and Bertuzzi for his notorious sucker punch–, the issue was that the players involved were seen as possibly having the intent to injure their opponents, while also breaking the rules of hockey in an indisputable sense. This is not as cut-and-dry the case here.

    Thornton pulls Orpik down from behind– which any casual hockey fan will tell you happens multiple times a game (in front of the net, and otherwise)–, and then proceeds to try to fight him. Whether Orpik was stunned when he hit the ice, or whether he simply chose not to fight back, Thornton has no reason to believe here that his jabs will not be defended or returned. There is little reason for this article to intuit that Thornton intended to injure Orpik in the way that he did.

    Injuries are risks taken in hockey. If someone is killed in the boxing ring in a dirty fight (see Max Baer and Frankie Campbell), they are not convicted of murder because it is presumed that the opposing fighter took these risks. The difference between hockey and boxing in this case isn’t as big as you might presume. Orpik absolutely buries Eriksson with a body check earlier in this game, and he is now battling a concussion that is leaving him temporarily unemployed– would you like charges to be brought to Orpik here? When Thornton goes after Orpik, he is attempting to defend his teammates from similar treatment, as is his right and his duty (if you disagree with this, don’t watch/play hockey– it is a vital part of the physicality of the game, and it is the very reason Thornton is paid to play in the NHL). Should he have done what he did? Of course not. Were his heart and his head (his INTENT) in the right place? Yes.

    Arguing that this is somehow Bettman’s fault is absurd– any hockey commissioner would be hard-pressed to eliminate this type of incident from happening without sacrificing vital and historically important aspects of the game. This is nothing Bettman himself caused. Further, simply throwing the blame on Bettman showcases everything that is wrong with representatives of the media in criticizing the game of hockey (see: the CBA negotiations).

    You would do well to research legal practices before throwing words like “criminal” and “crime” around, and you would do better to do some actual research into the game of hockey, the nature of criminal intent, and the responsibilities of commissioner before lobbing this smack from the cheap seats.

  207. Orpik hits cole says:

    Remember when Brooks Orpik broke Eric Cole’s neck? He got a 3 game suspension and no jail time.

  208. Orpik hits cole says:

    Orpik should have been gone for life for hit on Eric Cole.

  209. Homer Mcslanted-article says:

    LOL, this “article” is hilarious.
    The OP should be brought up on charges for impersonating a writer.

    No reference to Orpik cheapshots or James Neal kicking people int he head..or your good ol buddy Matt Cooke. Remember him? Nobody wanted to call the cops then.

    Never knew Pittsburgh was WHINE country.

  210. Jason says:

    Assault – the intentional wanton and malicious attempt to put someone in fear of, or to Cause serious, bodily harm. What Thornton did constitutes assault in 50 states plus almost every other country and should be treated as such. This was not a bad hit during active gameplay it was a direct CRIMINAL assault on another human without consideration of the consequence. Cuff em and stuff em! Book em Danno!!!! Be aware I am not a Pens fan however, Go Over!

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