Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shanahan sets the Standard

Fifteen games, almost one fifth of an NHL season, that was the amount of time that Brendan Shanahan assessed over the weekend as a fit punishment for Shawn Thornton. The first ever suspension for the Bruin will clearly be one that will be talked about for the remainder of this season and perhaps for a few more down the line.

The decision by the Director of Player Safety is the correct price to be paid for the events of last weekend which saw the Boston Bruin take Brooks Orpik to the ice, leaving the Penguin player concussed and taken off the ice by stretcher.

For some (hello Don Cherry) the suspension was considered too much, for others not quite enough, however for the most part, the fifteen games that Shanahan announced, is probably just the right number.

NESN-- Shawn Thornton Suspended 15 Games By NHL for Attacking Brooks Oprik
NESN-- Cam Neely believes that Shawn Thornton's 15 game suspension is "Higher than Warranted"
Boston Herald-- Thornton's 15 game ban too harsh
National Post-- Boston Bruins' Shawn Thornton suspended 15 games for attack on Pittsburgh Penguins' Brooks Orpik
National Post-- Suspension of Boston Bruins' Shawn Thornton sets new standard for Brendan Shanahan, NHL
Globe and Mail-- Bruins' Thornton suspended 15 games for attack on Pens' Orpik
Vancouver Sun-- NHL covers its legal backside in weighing Shawn Thornton suspension
Toronto Star-- Bruins' Shawn Thornton suspended 15 games for Brooks Orpik attack
TSN-- Bruins' Thornton suspended 15 Games for Actions against Orpik

It sets the tone for the season moving forward that the days of brain cramp incidents must come to an end. The time to consider your actions has arrived and that the Mad Max style of recent weeks will be addressed.

Shanahan has taken a fair amount of heat over his duties since he took on the thankless task of doling out suspensions and trying to create a culture of respect with the minority of players that don't seem to know how to spell that word.

His decision on the weekend was the right tone, the right punishment. The message clear an unequivocal, dangerous play will not be tolerated.

Much has been made about the entire flow of that game and how things continued to escalate, valid points, there were any number of stupid incidents during the Bruins-Penguins game of last week that could keep Shanahan and his team busy for a fair amount of time.

However, the Thornton incident stood out among them, for the slew foot, the punches to a vulnerable player and even the nature of stalking him down the ice before the incident.

The parallels to the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident, a black mark from the NHL archives that still has yet to be properly addressed. Thankfully, for Orpik his career will continue and for Gary Bettman and the NHL's Governors the spectre of a court case does not seem to be in motion here.

Thornton, to his credit was remorseful following the incident and not seemingly the convenient remorse we have seen in the past, which lacks but one key ingredient credibility.

Still, his acts were dangerous, the outcome clearly could have been much, much worse.

The Bruins outlined today that Mr. Thornton plans to appeal his fifteen games, which is his right, though one suspects that it will prove to be an unsuccessful appeal.

Boston Globe-- Shawn Thornton to appeal suspension
Boston Herald-- Shawn Thornton to appeal suspension
NESN-- Bruins Forward Shawn Thornton appealing 15 Game suspension
USA Today-- Shawn Thornton appeals 15-game suspension
Globe and Mail-- Thornton suspension a litmus test for appeals under new NHL CBA Bruins' Thornton plans to appeal 15-game suspension
CBC-- Shawn Thornton to appeal his 15 game suspension
Yahoo-- Can Shawn Thornton win his 15 game suspension appeal

The visuals of the string of events provide a fairly compelling case that Brendan Shanahan has made not only the correct decision, but the just decision.

Providing a new measuring point for future offences, though we have no doubt that Shanahan hopes his suspension of Mr. Thornton will provide the ultimate of deterrents and that finally, in season of but three months of nasty incidents, the message of mutual respect begins to take hold

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