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Morning Java: On Olympics, Orpik’s health, one viral post

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Tuesday do-it-yourself column question for the week: What’s an appropriate punishment for Shawn Thornton?

Remember the guidelines: Write no more than 100 words, enter it is a comment below this entry, and the three best will be run in tomorrow’s Morning Java. Feel free to add your name if you choose.

>> Proud to share here that I’ll be covering the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, for the Trib. This will be my fourth Games and, though I’ve known this for a while, I always wait until the day the credential arrives from the IOC. That was yesterday.

I’ll have much, much more on the details of the coverage plans as we get closer. We’re two months away.

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>> The Penguins get enough from their young defensemen to stave off the Blue Jackets at Consol. Josh Yohe has the game story.

Still, the top priority is the health of Brooks Orpik in the aftermath of Thornton’s assault in Boston. And the news on that front wasn’t exactly upbeat, as Rob Rossi reports.

Here’s me freaking out on Winnipeg radio yesterday over Thornton.

In this video, Yohe and Rossi talk about fighting …

Random randomness from the scene: Kept my eye mostly on Robert Bortuzzo, because he’d been peculiarly benched for so long, and he more than earned his keep. Best side trait to Bortuzzo: He’s a bit of a hate magnet. Really seems to bother the opponent. The Penguins have been sorely missing that. …  I applauded — emphatically — the decision to send Simon Despres to Wilkes-Barre out of training camp, so it’s only fair to applaud the way he’s played since management astutely saw fit to rebuild his game from the back forward. He’s all defense now, and it shows. …Man, the Blue Jackets are just persecuted by the Penguins. Seriously, these guys look genuinely good against other teams, just crumble against this one. It will be interesting to see how that plays out now that they share a division and, especially, now that they’re run by outstanding hockey men in John Davidson, Craig Patrick and Jarmo Kekalainen. … I still hate seeing R.J. Umberger in another uniform. Used to ref his games when he was a child. Would have been really neat to see him become a Penguin. … Pascal Dupuis looked like his old self from the first shift, creating all over the attacking zone and eventually being rewarded with the key assist on Sidney Crosby’s winner. … Evgeni Malkin was hurt? Really? No one tell poor Fedor Tyutin that. … Would love to hear from some of you about your reaction after Marc-Andre Fleury shot that puck and nearly made franchise history. I never really thought it had a chance, but it would have been something. … Zach Sill looks like he heard about the lack of grit around here, huh?

Here’s our full Penguins coverage, including James Neal’s suspension. More on that from Rossi on the Chipped Ice blog.

Here’s Blue Jackets news from the Columbus Dispatch.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> How many Steelers are in career survival mode? Alan Robinson assesses.

The weekly Steelers Film Session focuses on Troy Polamalu, by Mark Kaboly.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage.

Here’s Bengals news from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Here are official game highlights from NFL.com.

Our panel on WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word pretty much melted down on the subject of the Steelers the other night …

>> Pitt’s Aaron Donald is the Nagurski Award winner as college football’s best defensive player. Jerry DiPaola documents.

>> The Pirates weren’t moved to move at the opening of the Winter Meetings. Rob Biertempfel and Travis Sawchik are covering the event in Lake Buena Vista.

>> To wrap it up today, just wanted to note that Saturday’s instant column on the Thornton assault is the most visited post in this blog’s history. Or the history of any other blog I’ve ever had. And it’s more than double the previous mark.

Crazy stuff. All the more so because it came over the weekend, when all online usage is way down.

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 more, including 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 top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

365 Comments

  1. DK, as I mentioned on last night’s blog, I also thought Bortuzzo played well. Great pairing with Simon. A couple of times I thought Bortuzzo looked particularly gassed, which I see as another argument for playing him more often.

    I’m absolving Flower for the late Columbus goal. Engelland put the puck from behind the net right on the scorer’s stick in front, practically in the crease.

    Stuart

    • P.S. Maatta and Letang looked OK together, also, and one of them can put it on the net once in a while.

      Just sayin’.

      Stuart

      • Maata’s job is to babysit Tanger until he gets his head straight :)

        • It’s official! NBCSN’s Pierre McGuire and Doc Emery join Dejan in the mutual appreciation association of Olli Maatta.

          I did not listen to what Milbury and Co. had to say about #3 during the intermissions. I historically lunge for the remote and begin to press random buttons at the beginning of commercials when each period ends. That makes it easier to pretend that those intermission blockheads don’t exist :)

  2. Shawn Thornton deserves forced retirement. I realize that just won’t happen in the deranged groupthink known as the NHL/NHLPA. Bearing reality in mind, I’d like to see him banned until after the Olympics. If a player on an enforcer’s salary might lose a third to half his blood money for doing something like this, maybe SOME of them will think twice. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said Thornton “lost control a little bit.” Maybe it’s time for a serious team fine for injury-causing stuff that happens after the whistle. Sadly, Thornton will actually get 10-12 games max — maybe.

    DK: And away we go with the first entry. Thanks, Doug!

  3. Just a reminder to newbies and other graypeople: You can very easily get avatars at http://www.gravatar.com … it’s free, and the avatar actually follows you to other forums.

    • My avatar no longer shows up on my tablet.

      • It shows up here :)

      • It does on my tablet.

      • Brandana, I think I saw someone post in the past that if another device was associated with a different email address, and that address wasn’t registered in gravatar, the avatar would not show.

        I guess this means that the avatar is associated with a specific email address. Quite a few people have multilple addresses, I think you can go back to gravatar and associate a different email address with your portable device.

        Don’t know if this helps or not FWIW.
        \
        Stuart

    • So easy, even I can do it.

      21 days until I’m Eastbound and Down

      BTW, I think I now have the 2nd best Avatar on here.

  4. The opinion of Rob Rossi in the video (above) from the Final Word is outrageous. The organization needs to be penalized for something Mike Tomlin “might have done on the spur of the moment?

    Ludicrous thinking from a guy who is apparently either not thinking … or (as is almost always the case with Mark Madden) just looking for a reaction.

    • You’re just wrong on this. It’s what Tomlin did that is outrageous. If Belichick or one of the Harbaughs did the exact same thing, you’d lose your blinders and say “give ‘em their just desserts.” I’m a diehard Steeler fan and even a (n erstwhile) Tomlin fan. And I’m angry about what he did. Take the punishment like a big boy and move on.

      • As to be expected, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        I NEVER said that Mike Tomlin shouldn’t be punished (and by the way, he was).

        I HAVE said that the Steelers organization and its fans (not just me, tough guy) should not be punished because they are not guilty of anything. Period. Only someone like you would dispute an opinion like this.

        Please … take your past blogging names and your re-fried horsecrap from past Pirates FO disputes. If you think you’re fooling anyone, then you must’ve been born sometime after midnight EST.

        • Oh, I forgot. With you it’s all about being a persecuted fan. Not exactly sure what the other gratuitous stuff means. But anyway, the Steelers deserve sanctions because of what their coach did. That’s how it works, whatever time we’re all born. Cheerio!

  5. I’m still sick to my stomach seeing Orpik on the ice. The NHL becomes a laughingstock when they allow this type of action. If Thornton is not booted from the league, they are in fact allowing it. It was by far the most cowardly unprofessional and disgraceful act I have ever seen in any sport. We’ll see what the NHL does, but I expect to be disappointed.

  6. Shawn Thornton committed a crime! I hope he gets booted from the league, but chances are very slim. I bet he’ll only get a 10 game suspension, if that.

  7. In addition to whatever extended suspension that Shawn Thornton receives, I hope the NHL takes away a Boston draft pick.

    In four months.

  8. From the AP game story:

    “The loss left Dallas (7-6) a game behind Philadelphia in the NFC East and owner Jerry Jones calling for more aggressive play-calling on defense.”

    You mean the kind of aggressive play-calling that the former, lightning-rod Dallas defensive coordinator would have called?

    Note to self: next time I’m complaining about bad play or bad players, REMEMBER. It is not always the coach.

  9. Feels like a Steelers game around here.

    Hey.

    Where’d everyone go?

  10. I believe that Thornton will get a 10 game suspension. But I would like to see their coach receive the same 10 game suspension for sending him over the boards every time Orpik was on the ice. The coach was just as responsible for this act as the player.

    • I haven’t been able to verify this but I read somewhere that Thornton wasn’t even on the ice when the scrum occurred, but came off of the bench. That alone would be an automatic 10 game suspension, similar to what Goddard got when he came off the bench in the Islander’s fiasco a couple years ago.

  11. I would like to see the coach fined $100,000 for this incident. As for Mr. Thornton, he should have to give up his salary for half of a season. He should then be required to work for minimum wage as an aide to those with traumatic brain injuries, with a portion of both wages donated to charities that help those who have been victims of traumatic brain injury and crimes where the victim has been beaten senselessly.

  12. JAL’s Puttin’ on the Ritz Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKPMk5_gStk

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 MLB Important Dates

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedule/important_dates.jsp

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Toronto Asked For Neil Walker in Return For Adam Lind

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/toronto-asked-for-neil-walker-in-return-for-adam-lind.html

    First Pitch: The First Base Rumor Mill is Active

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/first-pitch-the-first-base-rumor-mill-is-active.html

    Winter Leagues: Polanco and Ramirez Lead Pirates Winter Class

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/12/winter-leagues-notebook-polanco-and-ramirez-lead-pirates-winter-class.html

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates likely to stand pat in right field

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/12/9/5193362/pirates-likely-to-stand-pat-in-right-field

    6 Rumbunter

    Winter Meetings: How To Quickly Kill A Deal

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/12/09/winter-meetings-quickly-kill-deal/

    7 WHYGAVS

    Winter meeting rumors: Logan Morrison and Clint Barmes

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/october-2013/winter-meeting-rumors-logan-morrison-and-clint-barmes.html

    8 Green Weenie

    Baseball Meeting Rumors and Notes…

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/12/baseball-meeting-rumors-and-notes.html

    9 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Will Bucs Trade From Bullpen?

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/12/09/pittsburgh-pirates-rumors-will-bucs-trade-from-bullpen/

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates still waiting on A.J. Burnett; Neal Huntington denies interest in Rays’ David Price

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2013/12/09/pittsburgh-pirates-still-waiting-j-burnett-neal-huntington-denies-interest-rays-david-price/

    • Thanks, JAL. For my money, Fred Astaire is the greatest song and dance man that has ever taken breath on this planet.

      I always loved the great quote about his long time dance partner Ginger Rogers: “Sure he (Astaire) was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, …backwards and in high heels.”

      Also, one of the great scenes in American cinematic history: Gene Wilder and the late great Peter Boyle, as the monster, performing “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in Mel Brooks’ masterpiece, “Young Frankenstein”.

  13. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Reviewing the Brew

    Tom Gorzelanny Has Shoulder Surgery

    http://reviewingthebrew.com/2013/12/09/tom-gorzelanny-shoulder-surgery/

    12 USA Today

    The 24-Second News Cycle: How Twitter Altered Baseball’s Hot Stove Season and the Winter Meetings Forever

    http://thebiglead.com/2013/12/09/the-24-second-news-cycle-how-twitter-altered-baseballs-hot-stove-season-and-the-winter-meetings-forever/

    13 The Good Phight

    The Sense of a Baseball Ending

    http://www.thegoodphight.com/2013/12/9/5193070/the-sense-of-a-baseball-ending

    14 Charlotte Observer

    Remembering my father’s baseball glove, 20 years later

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/12/09/4532603/remembering-my-fathers-baseball.html#.UqcABEC8BRU

    15 Bloomberg Sports

    Torre, La Russa, Cox Enter Baseball’s Hall of Double Standards

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-09/torre-la-russa-cox-enter-baseball-s-hall-of-double-standards.html

    16 Baseball Nation

    The three lessons of Roy Halladay

    http://www.baseballnation.com/2013/12/9/5192604/roy-halladay-retirement-jays-phillies-cutters

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Baseball’s winter market: the 9 best of the rest

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/birdland/baseball-s-winter-market-the-best-of-the-rest/article_0b0fbadf-d156-51d0-9b3d-317ca3645777.html

    18 Cincinnati Enquirer

    Daugherty: Bryan Price will have to manage Reds’ egos

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20131209/COL03/312090060/Doc-Price-will-have-to-manage-Reds-egos

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The BP Wayback Machine Winter Meetings Review

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22387

    20 Fangraphs

    A Frightening List of Nelson Cruz Comparisons

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-frightening-list-of-nelson-cruz-comparisons/

    Song: Puttin on the Ritz Fred Astaire

  14. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers salary cap: Looking forward to 2014

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/12/9/5191724/steelers-salary-cap-looking-forward-to-2014

    Steelers top 1,000 rushing yards after 13 games

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/12/9/5193760/steelers-running-statistics-2013-franchise-history

    22 Steelers Gab

    Steelers vs Dolphins Report Card

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2013/12/09/steelers-vs-dolphins-report-card/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Bloomberg Sports

    2014 FIFA World Cup Projections

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-09/seeds-of-discontent-mulling-team-u-dot-s-dot-a-dot-s-world-cup-draw

    24 World Soccer Daily

    The Stories You Need to Read – December 9, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-the-stories-you-need-to-read-december-9-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Memorable Moments: Back in the Win Column

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/12/9/5194058/memorable-moments

  15. Speedy recovery, Brooks. Shawn Thornton needs to get counseling and perform community service during his upcoming suspension. Then bring him back on the ice. Do I think he is sorry? Sure he is, especially realizing that his career could be over and he almost ended Orpik’s.
    About the Olympics…remember when David Letterman’s mother went to Norway and did reports for his how? I am almost old enough to be your mom (if I had started really early). Take me with you!

    • Hey there, Kay.
      I did not see your post before I pressed “send” on my own. I was caught up in pretending to work while creating my post.
      Sorry for repeating your thoughts. Long story short, we are both right :)

      • Joni, I think Kay’s post was delayed for a first post and just came thru. But yes, you both had the same great idea!

        • I like Kay’s post better because it includes community service. The least Thornton can do is see how head trauma significantly changes people’s lives.

  16. Thornton lost control. Period. Based on Saturday night’s actions, Thornton is a danger to himself and to others.
    Player safety includes physical and psychological components. Thornton should, in addition to suspension and loss of pay, get counseling.

  17. I feel that a minimum of 26 games would be an appropriate punishment for Shawn Thornton………. that would take him out until the Olympic break.

    Thornton tried to fight Orpik earlier in the period, Orpik declined. Boston coach Claude Julien repeatedly sent Thornton on the ice to go after Orpik. Finally, Thornton got his chance, by racing the length of the ice, grabbing Orpik from behind, and punching him in the head while on the ice. Orpik was totally defenseless.

    Anything less than 26 games would be a travesty.
    Off the ice, this could have gotten jail time. Sad.

  18. Although I would love to see Mr. Thorton’s career end in forced retirement we all know that is not going to happen in a league that thrives off of bloodlust. Although the punishment is far from just it seems that Mr. Thorton shouldn’t be allowed back on the ice until (at the very least) after the Olympic break. The scary part about this whole situation is it seemed that Mr. Thorton was reacting in a blind rage (evidenced by words and actions), and that is what really needs to be dealt with by both the league and Mr. Thorton.

  19. As an addition to my post above, I also feel Julien should get a fine and 1 game suspension. He repeatedly sent Thornton out on the ice to extract his pound of flesh from Orpik, who was guilty of the cardinal sin of a clean, hard check into a Bruin. Guess Brooksie didnt get the league memo that hitting a Bruin isnt allowed by the CBA. Julien was barking even as Orpik was stretchered off the ice. Totally classless.

    I agree with Joni, that Thornton should get psychological counseling. One has to be afraid of someone who can snap like that.

    Until the league cleans up acts like this, it will continue. Already, I have read so many articles that say Orpik was to blame, either by that hard check, refusing to fight……… hell, some are saying Orpik “embellished” what happened to him!

    This is a seminal moment for Shanahan, and Bettman. They have the opportunity to send a message, even if it makes Jeremy Jacobs and the other neanderthals angry. If they dont send a message, someone is going to get paralyzed, or killed. Then I would like tos ee the reactions then. maybe someone can say the dead player “embellished” !

    Unfortunately, I only see a 6-8 game suspension for Thornton, which would be a complete joke. “He has no priors”, ” he is a standup guy”, “Orpik was at fault for not fighting him earlier”, will be the excuses for going easy on Thornton. Dont forget Bettman is deathly afraid of making Jacobs mad too.

    If this has occurred on the street, in a bar, a workplce etc., Thornton would be looking at 3 to 5 in jail.
    Your move, Gary the Midget (in more ways than one).

    • Spot on Plan.
      As I mentioned yesterday, Julien is a thug, and the refs blew it.

      As soon as it became clear that Thornton was being sent repeatedly after Orpik, esp after the first roughing penalty, the refs should have stopped play, gone to BOTH benches and informed both HCs that directed retribution would not be tolerated.

      The inability for teams to accept clean hard hits, and instead whine and cry foul, and pose as victims, comes straight from the coaching staffs, and Julien is among the worst.

      • So, do we fine the referees as well for not putting a stop to this before it happened?
        Yeah, now I’m dreaming…

        • Refs are rated. They can be downgraded and not allowed to ref vs certain teams (I believe) and not in the playoffs.

          As I also mentioned yesterday, the fact that there are now TWO refs on the ice makes consistency that much more difficult. One guy may be younger, let thiongs go down one end, the other guy may be a vet and call a much stricter more decisive game….up the other end. Players get frustrated cos an elbow there isn’t called, then an elbow here is called.

          If I had input, I’d go back to single ref, but add another linesman, or someone empowered to assist with calls. There should be only one Ref and the game would be managed better IMO.

    • Very nice summation there Plan. I cannot add a thing.

  20. Shawn Thornton’s incident should be viewed as close to Todd Bertuzzi’s as possible. Bertuzzi was suspended 20 games in total, 7 playoffs, for a first offense. Not only that, but the IIHF continued the suspension during the lockout. Thornton should get 25 games, first offense or not, due to the slew foot, something James Neal was suspended for, & repeated punches to the head. Like Steve Moore, Orpik was stretchered off the ice due to the injuries he suffered, while not quite as severe. They want to reduce headshots in the NHL, here’s the chance to send a message.

  21. Dan Co va sevich – lol – Wonderful rant on Peg radio !!!

  22. *****ATTENTION*****
    We’re seeing a lot of new posters and faces here, and think it’s great! We want to chat with you. Don’t be shy.
    If you post your hometown, Bizrow will add it to the list of Dejan’s Lunatics’ Asylum.
    Join in!

  23. Sarah – Good point about the refs having a chat about parameters with both benches after the roughing call.

    Another thought, what if the refs were told to “let them play” because it was a rivalry game?

    • Oh – well I hope that wasn’t the case.
      But I suppose anything is possible.

      The best Refs tell both benches (in a hot rivalry game) BEFORE the game starts that they are calling it strict, and there will be no liberties allowed. Then they go out and do it. That does a lot to keep everyone settled IMO.

  24. Are there any existing NHL rules concerning the length of a suspension?

    DK: Only mandated suspension length of which I’m aware is 10 games for leaving the bench during an altercation. That’s it.

  25. The Pirates best choice at 1B is Boston’s Mike Carp. Thoughts?

    • I don’t think he’s available.

    • I have been reading that as well, Petro. He was 27 last year, and that is the most likely year for a player to have his best season. It was his best season so far, which I assume will inflate what Boston would ask in return. His stat line vs. RHP last year:

      190 AB, 17 doubles, 2 triples, 8 HR (27 XBH in 190 ABs!)

      .300/.367/.537

      I wonder what we’d have to give up. He seems to fit the profile of what we are looking for. I have no idea about his fielding ability, but he hits RHP.

  26. Thornton should be forced to watch “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne playing Sean Thornton for two weeks straight while in jail for assault.

  27. How long for Thornton? Ohhhh…five games.

    Neal got only five games for what he did, and how different was it from what Thornton did? Marchand was defenseless. He didn’t see it coming. It was not in any way a hockey play even though it happened during play. It was sickening and embarrassing. He kneed a defenseless player in the head. Digest that for a minute. If Marchand had been knocked out like Orpik and carted off the ice, would Neal’s action look that much different from what Thornton did?

    Imagine it’s Sid or Geno on their knees and some Bruin skates by and knees him the head. We’d be calling for the B’s franchise to be disbanded.

    • He’s available.

    • Scapper, I agree that what Neal did was dangerous and stupid and embarrassing for all.
      The discrepancy that I see between Neal’s and Thornton’s actions Saturday night includes the number of contacts that each player inflicted. Neal’s super dangerous play involved one act. Thornton’s super dangerous play involved three acts (and a stretcher).

    • Difference is, if it was Marchand who kneed Neal or Sid, Marchand wouldn’t even be given 2 minutes and no suspension. And people would be calling Sid Cindy and telling him to stop whining.

      But I do agree with your point. Neal embarrassed himself and the organization.

    • Ah, the hit by Neal wasn’t even remotely similar to thornton. If anything, it was analagous to Steckle on Crosby…a flybuy…oops my bad. Steckle knew EXACTLY what he was doing and intentially clipped Sid with his shoulder. Trying to concuss him, no likely not. But also not innocent. Neal’s knee was the same thing, and regardless that Marchand is one of the dirtiest players in the league and would likely done the same thing, Neal let the team and himself down and deserved all 5 games. His excuse making after the game was lame and pathetic, similar to
      Steckle.

      Thornton was a premediated, aided and abetted by jullien, assault with a slewfoot from behind, suckerpunch then continued assault on a defenseless player on the ice. If not playing on home ice, thornton likely would have faced charges.

      JMO

  28. The NHL is intent on sweeping these incidents under the rug content on letting their spokesmen defend their archaic beliefs. This unwillingness to “answer the bell” will cost the NHL dearly. It’s not a question of IF but rather WHEN the first on-ice fatality occurs seems inevitable. This league will be marred forever knowing that it had every opportunity to change its ways.

  29. “Proud to share here that I’ll be covering the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, for the Trib. This will be my fourth Games and, though I’ve known this for a while, I always wait until the day the credential arrives from the IOC. That was yesterday. We’re two months away.”

    That means we have 59 days of covering more important in-the-now stuff of all Pittsburgh sports, sports that interest us more, here-and-now, before we turn our focus on that 60th day!!! Don’t have time to focus on that 60 days away stuff!!!

  30. In my opinion, Thornton does not deserve to be kicked out of the league. My opinion is that everybody deserves a 2nd chance. That being said, anything less than 20-25 games is laughable. The punishment has to match the offense. This can’t be viewed as just another hockey altercation.

    I give credit to Keith Jones on the nbcsports broadcast last night. Roenick pressed him on whether Orpik should have fought Thornton. Jones’ answer echoed what most of us have been saying: why should he have to fight for what the ref deemed to be a clean hit. He even said he wouldn’t have fought either had he been in Orpik’s position, which left Roenick visibly flustered.

    • Yeah, Jones didn’t waver in his opinion in the least. He’s the most level headed of all those clowns, which isn’t saying much, but good for him.

    • It WAS a clean hit. So if Thornton feels that upset about it, match Orpik shift for shift and match him clean check for clean check. Thornton can’t. He doesn’t have the kill or the brains. That’s the difference between Orpik and Thornton.

      • One of the worst trends now is the totally inability to see your teammate get lit up, and not scream CHEAP SHOT!
        It’s embarrassing.
        BOS troglodytes talk about Orpik having to man-up and fight.
        How about Julien and Thornton manning up and accepting a good hit?

        Boston is just one of the worst diving/whining/crybaby faux-victims teams out there. In fairness, TO and MTL call them out a lot. But Marchand and Chara are the worst.

        It starts with Julien.

        • Well said about Orpik and the non-fighting, Sarah! Turns out mom was right that it often takes more guts not to fight.

          And, extra points to you for working troglodytes into the conversation.

    • That’s that good Western Michigan education from Jonesy.

      • Jones was best in the discussion. Pierre McGuire even countered JR by reminding him that things have changed since JR played and McGuire coached.

        I thought it was a good discussion. It helped that Milbury wasn’t there. Jones clearly learned real good in K-Zoo.

  31. 64 DAYS UNTIL PITCHERS & CATCHERS REPORT TO PIRATE CITY IN FLORIDA FOR SPRING TRAINING

  32. NHL currently working on its “Ray Emery Rule”. Penalty on #29 Orange, 5 minutes for Simple Assault.

  33. Shawn Thorton: I say we kill him. Then we stab him. Then we hit him with a brick. Then we throw him down the stairs. Then we punch him. Then we pull up his undershorts. Then we kick him. Then we give him a cherry belly. Then we trip him. Then we give him a wet willy. Then we slap him. Then we call him names. Then we tell him we’re gonna kiss his sister. Then we toilet paper his house. Then we soap his windows. Then we squirt pancake syrup on him. Then we pull his hair. Then we kick him in the privates. Then we tell him we’re gonna tell his mother. . . . and then we kill him.

  34. A writer for the hockey news just tweeted that he hopes Thorton is suspended twice as long as Neal.

  35. Dejan, I listened to your audio on the Winnipeg radio and thought you were right on in your comments about the debacle in Boston the other night. IMHO, Neal should’ve gotten more than 5 games (unfortunately, 5 games is the limit) Thornton should get at least 20-25, perhaps even more! You sir, are a voice of reason in a cold, cruel hockey world!

    DK: Thank you for listening.

  36. Ten minutes came off the game clock from the time Orpik put a legal hit Louis Erikson until the time he was tripped and shoved down backwards and then repeatedly punched in the head until he was unconscious. Shawn Thornton did not simply lose control. This was a premeditated assault. Thornton was not the only one involved in the planning either. Claude Julien put Thornton on the ice with the intent, and quite possibly with specific instruction, to exact revenge on Orpik. Therefore, punishment cannot be limited to Thornton alone.

    Using the Todd Bertuzzi incident in 2004 as precedent, an appropriate punishment would be to suspend Sean Thornton indefinitely and make him prove he can come back and participate within the rules of the game. If he can’t change his game, a la Matt Cooke, then he can’t come back. Claude Julien should also be punished for his participation. I believe a 5 game suspension would get his attention.

  37. Starting to think Sill may have a place in bottom 6 after injury storm passes. Would get him as much experience as possible on LW. His skating has drastically improved in the past year or so and just as importantly his puck skills have as well. He still has a ways to go before he establishes consistency but i can see improvement in his confidence with the puck and his strength along the boards and on puck give him a chance to stick. Sill-sutter-bennett/megna has the makings of a solid 3rd line that can hold its own defensively and chip in with speed, grit and skill. When glass and ebbett get back it looks like we’ll have some tough calls to make.

    • agreed all around. I liked what I saw from Sill last night.

    • I agree about Sill, but puzzled by the lack of use of Harry Z. I think he is of the mold needed for a bottom six (sandpaper). Not to keen on either conner or ebbets. Also puzzled on the Engo back to Dman only, even with the injuries, due to our “sorta” new found wealth of blueliners. Impressed with Depres and was one of his biggest critics. I thought the pairing of him and Bortzo could be a good one, with some more ice time together.

      • I think they thought that there will be enough injuries that they’ll need engo on defense so they decided to keep him as sharp as possible. And unless adams or vitale is hurt not sure where you can play engo other than 4th line RW. Was thinking harry z would be logical choice to replace glass but guess not. I’m biased about ebbett cuz i thought he would be good fit for the organ-I-zation for several seasons. We could use his playmaking in bottom 6. I’ve always liked and respected connor cuz of his will and strength for undersized player but obviously he’s not a long term answer.

        • Ya, only real issues with coner and ebbets is size. The events of Saturday nite seems to suggest we need a little more size along with sandpaper and are my main reason for comments about Engo back to 4th line right wing (and emergency Dman fill in).

  38. I can sum up Thornton’s actions on the ice with one single word; Unacceptable. Were both teams full of emotion and playing dirty? Absolutely. But the only person to blame for the premeditated attack on Orpik was Thornton himself. This isn’t about the code or ‘manning up’ – this is about assault. For the sake of players, fans, and the kids who aspire to be the next Sidney Crosby they need to throw the book at Thornton, and hard. If he doesn’t get a 15-20 game suspension then the league is sending a message, the wrong message.

  39. What is appropriate and what the NHL will do are two entirely different topics. Appropriate would be a suspension of 20-25 games as well as a team fine in the $100,000-$250,000 range. This is an excellent opportunity for the NHL to take a stand and show that actions like this will not be tolerated and to make the point both to the players and the owners. To see what the NHL will do, look no further than Emery/Holtby. If that assault didn’t provoke any discipline this one will generate the minimum of 10-15 games and no ramifications for the owner.

  40. Shame about Dave Parker not making the Hall of Fame because he was certainly a Hall of Fame talent. Unfortunately sometimes, choices have consequences.

    • Yeah, he was a great one, Milo. He probably could have put up even better numbers without the illegal substances, and he definitely would have had a better reputation. His numbers were pretty darn good, as is. Jim Rice made it in, and I believe their offensive numbers were similar. But, Jim Rice couldn’t run or defend anywhere near what Parker did.

      • The Hall of Fame keeps becoming the Hall of the Very Good, IMO.

        • Whether we like it or not, 21, in my view most Halls have done exactly that. So what standard to use? Where it used to be? Where it has been lowered to?

          If the former, is it fair to lock out the Very Very Good now when they’ve been getting in for decades?

          If the latter, what do I care about FAIR?? It’s a HALL, not the criminal justice system. What do I WANT it to be??

          And what to do about the steroid era?

          I have no earthly idea how to answer any of these questions.

          • I think it’s just up to each voter. Personally, if I were a voter, I’d probably be a tougher sell. I’m not suggesting changes are needed to the current process though.

            As far as the steroid era goes, I’m not sure that anything needs to be done. Just leave it up to each voter.

        • Not last year. It was the Hall of Emptiness last year.

        • Clemente’s the Best,

          Cute phraseology, but who has gotten into the Baseball Hall of Fame who did not deserve it?
          I can only think of Bert Blyleven, and even he had certain numbers that stats geeks up-played to get him in.

          Baseball’s Hall of Fame is notorious for not allowing great players like 254 game winner Jack Morris and 2-time MVP Dale Murphy in.

          I disagree with you about baseball and its Hall of Fame. No only “Very Goods” there!

          • “who has gotten into the Baseball Hall of Fame who did not deserve it?”

            I didn’t say there was anybody who didn’t deserve it. If the voters voted them in, they deserved it. I’m saying there are those in that I wouldn’t have voted for like Blyleven, Rice, Gary Carter, Ryne Sandberg, Jeff Kent, among others.

            • “I disagree with you about baseball and its Hall of Fame. No only “Very Goods” there!”

              I also didn’t say there were only very goods there.

              • 21sthebest
                December 10, 2013 at 10:37 am
                “The Hall of Fame keeps becoming the Hall of the Very Good, IMO.”

                Are these not your words?

                Maybe I need a course in remedial reading, but these words say players that are ‘Only very good”, not great, are getting into the Hall.

              • Specifically then, to me it has become the Hall of the Great and the Very Good.

                I thought that by saying it has become the Hall of the Very Good that would be inclusive of those that I think are great, like the Ruth’s, Williams, Cobb’s, etc.

          • I can’t agree with you on Dale Murphy, Groat. Nice player. Very nice player, in fact. But, HOF? I don’t think so. Murphy’s career stats:

            .265/.346/.469
            2,111 hits, 350 doubles, 39 triples, 398 HR, 1,266 RBI (787 XBH)

            Cobra was much more deserving, IMO. Not that you were advocating for Murphy over Cobra. I just don’t think Murphy deserves it.

            Cobra’s career stats:

            .290/.339/.471
            2,712 hits, 526 doubles, 75 triples, 339 HR, 1,493 RBI (940 XBH)

            Parker was on better teams, and played in a tougher park to hit.

            • Murphy played on some horrible teams but I thought he was one of the top 3 or 4 players in the game for a while. His numbers were outrageous, considering hardly anyone would pitch to him.

              Even with his lower BA, I’d say yes to Murphy and Parker.

              And that’s the nicest thing I’ll ever say about any Brave not named Bob Horner. Bob Horner was cool.

      • Great to see you, Jimster :)

    • I’m with you, Milo.

    • Well said (as usual), Milo. He’s still my all-time favorite Pirate. You could not take your eye off him when he was on the field or even in the on-deck circle. Great stats. Clutch. (Back when “clutch” existed, ha ha.) But you are so right. The years he gave to cocaine and extra calories were enough to keep his stats just below the HOF line. That’s a shame, too, because this guy, played the game harder and better than any Pirate I’ve ever seen.

  41. Rajai Davis gets $10 million for 2 years from Detroit to be their 4th outfielder. You know, right around what the Pirates would like to pay their starting 1st baseman. Ever get the feeling our GM gets sent into a knife fight with a slingshot ?

    • Spitballs with a bent straw.

    • Maybe it shows there is more money in pizzas than newspapers.

    • I think, without any inside knowledge, that Neal has a say in the choice of weapons.

      • Choosing to spend less of somebody else’s money to the detriment of his team. What a prince. I doubt it seriously.

        • He may not be given the money from the somebody with the money

          • That’s what I’m saying Thunder, he can only spend what he’s given.

            • ‘Choosing to spend less of somebody else’s money to the detriment of his team. What a prince. I doubt it seriously.’

              Sorry Milo. I thought you were making a statement that NH didn’t want to spend the money.

            • When I was the Manager of a large business for a # of years, my responsibility was to present each new year’s budget to the owner and justify (read: sell) what increases I desired.

              I was never limited to what budget to present. I was never given a “Budget Figure” and told to live with that. I had to justify what I presented —— then was given a figure, not always mine, but based on what I presented.

              Maybe our blame directed toward cheap Bob Nutting is incorrect. Maybe the General Manager is not presenting expanded budgets . . . . or not justifying said expanded budgets well enough!

              .

              NAH!!!

              • That’s basically the point I was trying to make (and have been trying to make going back to the PG Blog).

                It’s not as simple as Neal gets an e-mail one day that says “Hey, you got X dollars to spend, deal with it. Oh, and by the way don’t spend more than X-Y on ______ position.

                So you may want to rethink it. ;-)

          • And we’ve officially reached the wild analogy portion of the payroll discussion.

      • He went out last year and got a $ 7.5 mil catcher. I’m not saying he has final say, of course, but he has to be a participant in the budgeting process. And he certainly has a say in the allocation of dollars that are decided on. I doubt Frank said “you only have $5 mil for a platoon 1B.” And from what I’ve read recently, David had some say in the choice of using the slingshot because of the size of his opponent. ;-)

    • Sounds about right for a decent 4th outfielder with around 6 years of service at his age. And he can still run. 45 steals and caught 6 times last year.

    • Remember when people thought Jose Tabata was overpaid?

      Pirates would have a long list of suitors if they put him on the market.

      • Hey, I resemble that remark!

        +++, NMR.

      • National Mart of Records,

        Do you really think so? What suitors would you suggest?

        What does Tabata bring to the table at $1.5 million per year that some $490,000 rookie outfielder couldn’t bring?
        Defense? No. Basestealing? No. Power? No. RBIs? No. Batting average? Average. Upside? Doubtful.

        Who would want him?

        Or, more germaine——what/who could Pirates get for him?

        If you can get Logan Morrison for him, I’m all for it. Yet maybe that says as much about Logan Morrison as it does about Jose Tabata.

        I am dubious of your 2nd sentence.

        • What makes me think so? This winter’s free agent and trade market.

          A 33 yo Rajai Davis who hasn’t posted league average BA, OBP, or SLG since 2009 was just guaranteed 2 years and $10m. David Murphy, Chris Young, David Dejesus have all signed for over $5m per year as reserves.

          Last season, the average outfielder slashed .258/.323/.408. Tabby is at .275/.339/.385 and showed average power potential last season.

          There is value in average, and Tabby is very much that.

          • Thanks for your educated answer!!

            You and I still disagree, mainly because the 4 you mentioned all have produced prolifically in a specific area in the past (Davis—stolen bases and defense; Young—homeruns and stolen bases; Dejesus—defense and RBIs) . . . .

            If Tabata is worth same, I would love Huntington to offer him to Jays for Lind.

            Just my opinion that Tabata is that famous “replacement player” from WAR.

            Pirate rightfielders (whole group) had the worst right field OPS in the National League for 2013 season, including Byrd’s excellent OPS for last 5 weeks of season! Byrd’s #s make Tabata, Snider, and Jones’ right field performances even worse!

            • Well, Jose Tabata played LEFT field 45% of the time last year, and also posted a higher OPS than guys like Alex Rios, Josh Hamilton, and Gerardo Parra.

              While Tabby may not have the standout tool like Davis’ speed or Young’s power, he also doesn’t have the extreme deficiencies that come with those guys. In order to get Rajai Davis’ speed, you have to bat him against RHP. He has a career 594 OPS against those types. In order to get Young’s power, you have to deal with him striking out a quarter of the time and posting sub-250 batting averages.

              Tabby doesn’t strike out, gets on base, hits either handed pitching, and can provide average defense in the corner spots. He doesn’t excel at anything, but he also doesn’t kill you at one or two things. He’s a more productive Nate McLouth, who also signed a +$10m contract.

              If he performs to his career average next season, you can bet there will be teams wanting him. Not for a top 100 prospect, and an established starter, but a valuable bullpen piece, another bench player or as part of a larger deal.

        • “What does Tabata bring to the table at $1.5 million per year that some $490,000 rookie outfielder couldn’t bring?”

          1500 major league plate appearances from which to project how me might perform in the future. While you can still project what a rookie might do, it seems like a tougher task without any major league history.

    • Milo, the Pirates will always be seated at the kids table………… extra TV money or not.

      Hi Frank.

  42. Shawn Thornton should be done for the season, but that’s not realistic in the eyes of the league, so it won’t happen. A 21 game ban (without pay) may be more in line. The Bruins should also be fined $500,000 or- better yet, have their salary cap number for next year decreased by $1,000,000. Let the players “police themselves,” but punish the franchise when one of its employees commits an egregious act of violence. If you start eating away at next year’s salary cap, thugs on skates will be left in the stone age.

  43. Regarding appropriate punishment for Thornton:

    If the NHL cares at all to stop this garbage, then the team employing the player has to feel the pain as much as the player does. The penalty should be half a season’s games, 41, with a fine to the team as large as the player loses in salary for their suspension – in effect, a double fine. Teams will have an incentive to move goons off their rosters. One further step – suspend the coach of the offending team five games, then ten, etc. for lack of player control on the bench.

    • Having written this, I know it will never happen, because the idiots running the NHL believe that their game, without the violence, will lose fan support. I think they’re dead wrong – and I hope no one has to end up dead before this stupidity changes.

      • Although attendance in Philly would probably drop by half.

        • Nah, they’d just come out of the stands to do it.

        • I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again….Boston is fast becoming the next Philthydelphia.

        • Ironically, a friend of mine from Philly, who appears normal and civilized in all other respects but hockey, just told me a couple of weeks ago that it is time for the powers that be to clean up hockey. He said the fighting, retribution, cheap shots, etc. have no place today. He’a long time Flyers season ticket holder. I bet he doesn’t express that sentiment at the games, though.

  44. The NHL needs to address the Thornton issue swiftly and decisively. The sanction needs to be announced by the Commissioner and made clear that the decision comes from the Commissioner’s office and not just from Shanahan’s investigation. The Commissioner must make it clear that precedent, prior acts and other same game incidents that occurred that evening are not relevant to the decision. That each egregious act will be taken on a case by case basis. Finally, the sanction needs to address not only the individual but also the institutional problems that exist in certain NHL organization.

    1. Thornton: 41 games. One half the season. $100,000 fine. To be paid to a Pittsburgh area domestic violence abuse shelter or to head injury research at University of Pittsburgh medical school.

    2. Julien: $50,000 fine to recognize that team approval of such culture shall not be tolerated. Again, money to a charitable cause.

    • John, I think you and I could get along!

    • I am concerned about the swiftly part.
      I cannot remember where I saw this, but one source reported that the NHL player safety meeting for Thornton may take place as far away as Friday. Why the long wait? Are the people in charge hoping that the rest of us forget or change our opinion on the attack? Are the folks in charge trying to come up with a way to pacify the masses with some semi-cleverly worded explanation for Thornton’s punishment, which will not explicitly address the problem of “the code” and it’s enforcement? Boo, hiss on this protracted NHL player safety meeting!

      A big old yay on your post, kind sir :)

    • Cut it down to 100 words and I think we have a winner.

  45. Thornton’s actions were criminal in nature, that they took place in the context of a professional sporting event is irrelevant. Without looking it up, I’d be nearly certain that he is guilty of felony assault as defined by the Massachusetts penal code. Anyone who attacked another person on the street and caused them grievous bodily harm would certainly have been arrested. And so too, should Thornton. This was a premeditated act of violence and he should be prosecuted and judged by a jury of his peers.

    • Do you think Neal’s shot to Marchand’s head with his knee was premeditated?

      I just think that getting criminal charges brought for either of these during a hockey game would be pretty difficult.

      • 21–not in the same way that Thornton’s actions were premeditated. I thought Neal’s hit to Marchand was a dirty play and agree with the suspension of Neal, but it doesn’t qualify as felony assault.

      • I think there are lots of things that occur on the field of play, in any sport, that would be considered criminal if done somewhere else. Like tackling. Not justifying Thornton’s actions, and they were despicable, but the argument that where it occurred is irrelevant doesn’t get me anywhere. I do remember an attempt a long time ago, to have criminal charges brought because of something that happened on the ice, but it didn’t get anywhere (and I thought it deserved criminal charges).

      • All I know is that if I was put in the same position as Neal with the same guy lying prone on the ice, I would have done exactly the same thing. Frankly, Neal should be congratulated for his restraint.

  46. Shawn Thornton has played over 500 games in the NHL. He has amassed over 900 PIMs without a prior suspension. He is viewed around the league as an “honorable enforcer”. But none of that should matter in this case. What Thornton did to Orpik was criminal.

    Matt Cooke crossed the line when he took a cheap shot at (insert name). James Neal crossed the line when he kneed Marchand. Raffi Torres crossed the line when took out Marian Hossa in 2012. Make no mistake, every aforementioned player deserve every single minute of their suspension, if not more.

    Shawn Thornton didn’t cross the line on Saturday night. There is no line for slew-footing, pouncing, and assaulting an unsuspecting player long after the whistle. What Thornton did wasn’t remotely close to being a “hockey play”. It is similar in nature to what Todd Bertuzzi did to Steve Moore in 2004. Thornton should receive the same suspension of 20 games. After his suspension, he will have the rest of his career to regain his now seemingly hollow title of an “honorable enforcer”.

  47. Have fun, Loons.
    Priceless stuff.

  48. Not being a hockey expert, I guess my question for anyone who cares to answer, is why the malice toward Orpik?

    What did he supposedly do or not do to deserve this? Not fighting brings an instant assault like that goalie a month or so ago?

    Seems unrealistic and neanderthal to me. But I don’t know hockey other than the 1-3-1.

    • I think you got about exactly right, Lucky.

    • Malice towards Orpik: exhibited by the neanderthal fans/writers/GM’s.

      Not fighting is breaking the neanderthal “code”. One must fight when provoked. One must fight when a teammate is wronged. One must fight when your coach (Julien) sends you over the boards to extract revenge.

      And, thugs like Emery and Thornton get away with their crap because the league is spineless and gutless when meting out punishments. As long as they get no discipline, or a slap on the wrist, this will continue , until a player dies on the ice.

      Or stops talking about the 1-3-1 ;)

      • Seems as ridiculous to me as drilling someone in the head with a baseball because they hit a HR off you. I know some of those guys need drilled, but a good one in the hinter parts or some soft place would do the trick if they show you up or hit a teammate, like Cutch was getting hit by the Reds.

        Buzzing heads at 95 MPH is not my favorite thing about the sport.

        These unwritten codes in these sports need refining in my opinion. But nobody asked me.

    • Orpik has developed a rep as a player who plays on the edge but “won’t answer the bell”.
      This is how neanderthal hockey players call you a Sissy.

      Which is because he lights people up and they get mad. And are too stupid to do anything but scream “CHEAP!!”

      You should understand that the Bruins are amongst the worst for pretending they’ve been injured, diving, embeleshing, taking cheap shots.

      Chara and Marchand are amongst the worst.
      Shananhan actually uses a CLIP FROM MARCHAND cheap-shotting someone in his instructions to Refs on how to call Slew-footing.

      Check out the YouTube at the end of the thread.

  49. What is appropriate punishment for Shawn Thorton?

    The better questions are:
    Does the NHL wish to be taken seriously? Or is it happy to continue as the laughing-stock of professional sports? An embarrassment, a “garage league”, proud of a gangland mentality – now being sued for negligence in protecting players from concussion?
    Should Bettman suddenly get wise: Thornton’s out of the game for a year. Loss of pay. Counseling. ALSO – heavy fines and suspension for HC Claude Julien, who repeatedly sent Thornton over the boards to confront Orpik. Julien directs his team in the worst kind of embellishment, faux victimhood, and thug/retribution mentality. It was Julien who couldn’t “man up” and accept a clean, hard hit. It was Julien who’s worse than Thornton, because the crybaby/Thug Mentality starts with the coaching staff. And there it can end, without any help from the DPS.

  50. Hockey is a tough guy sport, but it is not a tough guy sport because of cowardly, thuggish acts like Shawn Thornton’s assault on Brooks Orpik. It is a tough guy sport for the other 99% of how the game is played. I would be just fine if the NHL lost the fans who think it takes toughness to assault an unsuspecting player. Brooks Orpik delivering a clean hit and then choosing not to fight was tougher than anything Thornton did.

  51. Argh – repost:

    What is appropriate punishment for Shawn Thorton?
    The better questions are:
    Does the NHL wish to be taken seriously? Or is it happy to continue as the laughing-stock of professional sports? An embarrassment, a “garage league”, proud of a gangland mentality, now being sued for negligence in protecting players from concussion?
    Should Bettman suddenly get wise: Thornton’s out of the game for a year. Loss of pay. Counseling. ALSO – heavy fines and suspension for HC Claude Julien, who repeatedly sent Thornton over the boards to confront Orpik. Julien directs his team in the worst kind of embellishment, faux victimhood, and thug/retribution mentality. It was Julien who couldn’t “man up” and accept a clean, hard hit. It was Julien who’s worse than Thornton, because the crybaby/Thug Mentality starts with the coaching staff. And there it can end, without any help from the DPS.

  52. Have fun with this Loons

  53. Thornton’s Penalty: He SHOULD be drawn and quartered, if that seems too harsh, then apply the tenets of the Old Testament and Islam: “an eye for an eye.” Give him a slew foot, drop him to the ice and give him 3 gloved knocks to the chin & see if he can take what he dishes out. Draconian solution? Certainly, but appropriate, however, seeing as though Burkhalter (and all the other dinosaurs) down at the league office won’t agree, I’ll settle for 15 games.

  54. MLB Trade Rumors says the Phils are willing to trade Lee and Hamels. So, why did they sign Ruiz and Byrd again?

    I read yesterday that Halliday told the Phils he was retiring and asked Amaro, Jr. if he could sign a 1-day contract, but Amaro, Jr. insisted on a 3 year deal. Very funny line. Wish I had thought of it originally.

  55. Where did hockey come up with that slew-footing name, anyway? I think the person who first coined the phrase did a heck of a sell job to get everyone else to buy into it.

    • Probably the first guy to do it was named Slew.

      • “Hey, did you all see how I just snuck and tripped that unsuspecting guy? I just put one leg behind him and hit from the front, and he toppled right over. We need a name for that.”

        “Great idea, Slew! Can’t think of anything that quite describes it, though.”

    • I believe to do with the “skidding/sliding” i.e. slewing effect it has on the opponent, throwing him off balance.
      That is another lower-than low move, as it can buckle a knee, or (more likely) tear a groin by causing the slewed-skate to slide out laterally.

      Torn groin can end a career.

      Marchand is the poster boy for slew-foot.

  56. NHL salary cap for next year to grow to $71.1 million. That’s up $6.8 million from this year from $64.3 million. (Someone please check my math :) )

  57. Bertuzzi hit on Steve Moore, breaking his neck and ending his career.
    Bertuzzi returned to play for the Canadian OLYMPIC TEAM.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bertuzzimoorepunchsmall.jpg

    As Americans, would we be OK with a US player doing the same?

  58. This is one of my “hot buttons” in NHL-level hockey; league-mandated punishment. We deliberate over what would be an appropriate punishment handed down to Mr. Thornton. What would be “fair”? I contend that the answer to that deliberation lies with Mr. Orpik himself. The number of games that Brooks Orpik is not medically cleared to play should be the number of games that Mr. Thornton is penalized. Without pay. So if Brooks is out for the rest of the year, so too should Mr. Thornton be out for the year. That’s a logical exchange, so it won’t happen. Shuttlecockboarding!

  59. What Shawn Thornton deserves and what Shawn Thornton gets may be two very different things. The old adage of cooler heads will win the day. With a hearing forthcoming Thorton’s contrition and Orpik’s lack of a catastrophic injury will limit his penalty to 10 games (with credit for games already missed). I don’t blame that on Shannahan but on the NHLs unwillingness to bite the bullet (see Emery, Ray) and finally remove unnecessary violence from the game. It’s time to remove the goons from this beautiful game but we aren’t there yet.

  60. Just read a quote from James Neal: ” … the hit on Marchand wasn’t the smartest decision I’ve made”.

    No ****, Sherlock.

    Still say Neal/Marchand = Steckel/Crosby.

    Thornton/Orpik = Bertuzzi/Moore

    • there’s just one tiny detail that changes the Neal/Marchand = Steckel/Crosby.
      That friggin WEASEL Marchand didn’t miss a shift.
      Steckel knocked Sid into purgatory.

      • This detail should not matter at all. I don’t care if one was hurt and one was not, they are both as classless and both could’ve ended another man’s career. Get this crap out of the game!!!

        • In order to get the crap out of the game, you have to get Marchand out of the game.
          Details, details…

          • Well, I would not be averse to Player review/discipline occurring for players like Marchand or CHara who repeatedly are called for “diving/embellishment”.

            As a safety issue – it makes it much more difficult for the refs to properly assess severity of an incident.

            I’d bet if it WASNT Marchand, Neal gets tossed. But since it was the well-known whining diving crybaby rat-f-ck, Neal gets 2 mins, and benefit from the refs.

            Beyond safety/reffing, it is also a game-integrity issue.

            I’d LOVE it if Marchand gets called in front of the league for repeated diving.

  61. For Thornton’s suspension, I think several things should happen. I think a 26-game suspension to hold him out until after the Olympics. I also think he should be required to receive anger management counseling and be approved by his counselor to play before stepping back on the ice, even after the 26 games. On top of this, Thornton should face an additional fine. Lastly, the Bruins organization should face a hefty fine for this situation as well. Changing the culture of teams needs to come from the top down (a la Matt Cooke situation).

    • Regarding Neal’s hit/suspension, the suspension is a joke. Neal’s actions deserve at least 10-15 game suspension. He deliberately kneed a defenseless player in the head. This could’ve easily ended up with Marchand having serious head trauma. It is time for Mario and Bylsma to step up in this situation and tell Neal that this is not tolerated and he needs to get his act together or goodbye. This strategy worked with Matt Cooke, and Neal appears to be headed down the same path. Time to correct Neal’s on ice decision making because he is too good a player to be sitting out suspended.

      • Marchand already has serious head trauma…that’s why he’s such a p*ssy…just sayin’

      • Iceman, i dont disagree with you about what neal did and getting cheap shots out of the game. However i think what neal did falls into same category as what goes on in any heated game. Its about what you can get away with to a certain extent. Fines and suspensions can alleviate that stuff. Should Clarkson be suspended for the slew foot on Piece that led to his broken ankle? Totally unnecessary and dirty play but he got away with it cuz he did it with enough subtlety to not even get a penalty let alone suspension. What thornton did falls into a much different category. Eating elbow and shoulder pads is part of the game when not used as weapons. Force feeding someone shin pads is a suspendable offense but stalking and assaulting 20 minutes after a clean hit is unacceptable.

        • I am not comparing the Neal and Thornton situations. They are separate situations and should be treated as such. I just think that what Neal did is disgusting with no regard for another human’s well-being and it should have much bigger repercussions than it did.

          • Guess I think 3-5 games was appropriate cuz although he didn’t avoid contact he also didn’t seek it out.

            • This is where we disagree. His initial line is to go right by Marchand. He changes that line and sticks his knee out (even though it was just slightly) and gets Marchand right in the head.

              • Once again I don’t disagree. However Neals suspensions have been a result of ultra chippy games against philly and now Boston when he and everyone were giving as much as taking. Considering benefit of doubt enforcers and agitators get I don’t think Neal is a menace to the game. His unfortunate luck to have chance to not avoid that particular head.

          • If Neal had done what he did without the Thornton assault of Orpik coming in the same game, I don’t think Neal would have gotten off with 5 games.

  62. WHEW!!!!!!!!!!
    My lord I fell off my chair.

    But Neal as much as admitted it was deliberate. If it’s a decision, you can decide not to.

    • dust yourself off and keep on typing, Sarah!
      ;)

    • I thought GM Ray handled it very well in his interview with NHL Network. He said Neal’s punishment was appropriate. That play by Neal was dumb on so many levels. He has missed so much time & has had concussion issues of his own. Now, he needlessly misses 5 games when he was rolling.

      He also took the moral high ground on this issue away from the Pens from the perspective of the league. By that, I mean he gave the NHL cover to play up that side of the issue while downplaying the Thornton assault.

  63. What’s an appropriate punishment for Shawn Thornton?

    Players like Thornton, who possess a combination of both size and fighting skill, need to be held to a higher standard of accountability simply because their actions, if uncontrolled, can have devastating consequences. Thornton’s barbaric outburst against a defenseless Orpik represents this worst-case scenario. Thornton acted without concern for the opposing player’s safety and without concern for the consequences of his actions. It was only due to good fortune and physical intervention that Orpik did not sustain more grievous injury. Emotions may escalate, but a player’s actions must always be kept under control… especially a player like Thornton: 20-game suspension.

  64. Congratulations on the Olympics credentials. The world’s best athletes and their fans deserve the best reporters to tell their stories. You are definitely in that category.

    DK: I appreciate that, Tom, but the general pool of reporters/columnists and such that cover the Olympics is one that I aspire to, not one that I feel I’ve achieved.

    • Hey, Tom. I haven’t seen you post in awhile. Or, have I just missed you on here?

      • Thanks, Jim. I don’t follow the fall and winter sports as much as I follow baseball, so I don’t have as much to add. Obviously, I check in on occasion. Happy Holidays, everyone. and as the days grow shorter, we are only about 65-70 days from pitchers and catchers reporting.

  65. UGH! I gotta get some serious work done. Gotta get it in high gear.
    Be good Loonies!

    <3

  66. Hold on a minute. I don’t remember who was saying what above, but I saw a lot of comments implying (or just outright saying) that Neal’s knee to the head is “kind of okay” because, you know, it was on Marchand, and he’s a big jerk and crybaby and a this and a that. So hey, he had it coming and so what if what Neal did was out of spite and an attempt to injure? What kind of defense is that?

    The only reason it’s getting a pass by so many Pens fans is because Marchand wasn’t injured. How close did that play come to knocking him out or worse? This is the same hockey fanbase who was so apoplectic about Steckel’s elbow, which was nowhere near as blatant and purposeful as Neal’s knee.

  67. The trouble with booting Thornton from the NHL is that an organization that promotes violence in the workplace, would have a difficut time supporting his removal for violence in the workplace. I know, I know….you say “would we not fire a man for bringing a pair of boxing gloves to work and striking co-workers in the face with them?” And I say to you simply, No, not if the supervisor set the standard for encouraging lunchtime boxing matches. While I agree that what Thornton did was beyond the line, his removal from the league simply cannot be an option. There is no reason out there however that we should see him in a Bruins uniform in any less than 20 games from now.

  68. What Thornton did was criminal, plain and simple. If I cowardly came up behind someone I was upset with, knocked them down, punched them, and rendered them unconscious, I would be greeted soon afterward by police. No doubt my victim would press as many charges against me as possible. My jail time would be deserved. Thornton should be banned for the remainder of the season and forced to enjoy anger management classes. Sadly, that won’t happen. But anything less than 25 games will show the NHL isn’t truly serious about player safety.

  69. Forgot to say it before, but great to hear that DK will be reporting from Russia. I love the Winter Games except for some like half pipe snow boarding, but maybe I can warm to that, too. Love bobsled and luge.

  70. Here is some news that I find odd, the Ravens/Pats game has been moved from the Sunday night slot to 4:25. Instead they’ll show the Eagles/Bears. I don’t recall the NFL doing that before.

    http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/extra_points/2013/12/patriots-ravens_game_moved_out_of_sunday_night_foo.html

    • The NFL has had that option for a while, a few weeks ago, the announced that the Steeler Bengal game this Sunday would not be moved from the evening game to a daylight game.

      The power of ratings, I guess.

  71. Still hearing and reading from the card carrying members that all this could’ve been prevented if orpik dropped the gloves and left his fellow dmen out to dry for 5 minutes or longer. So while we’re blaming the victim how bout Eriksson keeping his head up and knowing who’s on the ice? Or maybe the dman passing the puck doesn’t give a suicide pass to his forward? Perhaps Boston is just projecting their deficiencies to justify their actions? Just saying…

    P.S. if you’ve been paying attention you saw pens looked substantially better against Boston last few games. Puck possession stats back that up. Maybe they were frustrated for more than 1 or 2 reasons.

    • Yup, Erickson could have kept his head up, could have opted not to try to get the pass….that is Rule ONE. Keep your HEAD UP. He didn’t. See Lindros, Eric. I guess I don’t think of that as blaming the victim. Erickson got hit hard in a clean hockey play with an unfortunate result.

      This could have been ESCALATED had Orpik dropped the gloves.

      This could have been PREVENTED if Julien wasn’t a thug. Or if the refs had handled it better. Or if Thorton wasnt a roid-deranged animal.

      At this point I’m ready to discuss removing shoulder checks altogether and allowing hip checks only.

  72. Not sure how last post ended up above. Checkout 245 pm post.

  73. Here’s a vote for the beautiful and graceful and violent sport of ice hockey.

    Let’s save maybe more than a few brains from felony assault and neurological cell death.

    Let’s maybe prevent suicides and early dementia and rescue the sport from stone age concussion-mongers and voyeurs.

    Hard legal hits within play are OK. Fighting, assaults, willful blows to the head, etc—banned.

    Neal—25 games.
    Thornton—1 year.

    Major meaningful fines and penalties to the teams of offending players.

  74. Replies aren’t working right this pm.

  75. No Trumbo for us– bummer !!

    • I don’t know, JMB. Who would you have given up for him?

      He only hit .234 with a .294 OBP last year. He has great power, but not much else. He’ll be 28 in January, so I don’t know that he’s going to get better at this point. He’s pretty much Pedro, offensively. I don’t know about 2 Pedro’s in one lineup if it means giving up top prospects.

  76. On the Neal matter, am I the only one uncomfortable with the way the Penguins organization handles these sorts of things ?

    DK: You mean basically taking the league’s side in public?

    • The high road doesn’t seem to win them any points with the league, if that is what you mean. I thought Shero said all the right things yesterday, but maybe not.

      • I just don’t know what’s gained by publicly criticizing your own players. Nothing worse for an employee than to be tossed under the bus by management at the first sign of trouble. Hated it with Cooke, hate it now.

  77. CBS Sports is reporting that the Steelers will lose a draft pick.
    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/12/08/steelers-will-lose-draft-pick-cbs-sports-reports/

    DK: Also, Bill Cowher hired to take over for Chuck Noll.

  78. This just in from the winter meetings – the Pirates have done nothing.

  79. Billy Beane says the A’s might make a move at WM. Will the Bucs pursue Brett Anderson ?

  80. From MLBTR: “The Pirates are likely to be on the lookout for a first baseman, a starting pitcher and a backup infielder.”

    Totally agree with that statement. I’m not sure why people are hitting the panic button just yet on our incomptent GM. (sarcasm alert)

    People asking about Justin Wilson. Like him a lot, but if he nets a LH 1B, see ya JWil.

    This reminds me of the Mike Gonzalez/Adam Laroche deal.

    LoMo?
    Ike Davis?
    Lind?
    Moreland?

    • No idea why this ended up here. Sorry if I jumped on someone’s post. Was supposed to be at the bottom.

    • Lind or Moreland? Yes, please!!

      Ike? No thank you.

      • I still think, and others’ at the meetings have said the same thing, that LoMo still has the makings to be a star.

        would be buying low as well. I’m torn between him, Lind, and Moreland.

        Agree no on Ike, but who knows, get him out of CitiField and he might be productive power hitter.

        • I wouldn’t mind adding Justin Smoak to the list as well. His BA is low, but I think he still has some potential, especially on the power side.

        • Morrison looks like he should be a stud, for whatever reason, it just isn’t coming together for him. Of course, getting out of Miami would have to help him. Getting out of Miami would have to help anyone.

          I really like Moreland. He can play 1B and RF, which means Tabby can sit when Gaby plays.

    • Adam LaRoche 2.0.

  81. If I had the power of judge and jury, Thornton’s conduct skating across the ice, slew footing an unsuspecting Orpik, horse-collar him to the ice, throw an elbow punch, and then punch an unconscious player on the ice is unforgiveable.

    Todd Bertuzzi was suspended 13 regular season games and 7 playoff games for his criminal actions against Steve Moore. I would argue what Thornton did was worse by the accumulations of all his actions.

    I would ask, would you feel bad for a drunk driver that killed a family but had a reputation for doing good things in the community?

  82. Thornton’s hearing isnt until Friday.
    The longer they wait, the more likely he will get a slap on the wrist.

    http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/10114768/shawn-thornton-hearing-brooks-orpik-incident-friday

  83. Lets see where this ends up. It is being placed at the very end of the blog.

    A national writer that gets it……

    http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/28178/orpik-shouldnt-have-had-to-pay-for-hit

  84. Speaking of Blogs, just read Rossi’s blog post about Neal from Chipped Ice that DK linked this morning. Not to be missed IMHO. Very intelligent, informative and insightful.

  85. I would have to say the luckiest, most overrated and puzzling athlete in all of sports is Danica Patrick.

    How about finishing on the podium in at least one NASCAR race before hosting a prime time award show ?

  86. Blog’s still busted, Jandy. Last post ended up somewhere around Duncansville, PA.

  87. Just like the Texas Longhorn Boosters, the NHL Disciplinary Board, and Humpty Dumpty…………… the blog is broken.

    Maybe we can fire ourselves?

    Dont know where this will end up……….. maybe Siberia……..

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