NHL suspends Neal for 5 games, how many will Thornton get?

By Brad Constant, Dec. 10, 2013

People can go round and round about whether they think James Neal or Shawn Thornton was the dirtier player in Boston last Saturday night, Dec. 7. In fact, there is such a debate on Twitter that can be read on BleacherReport.com. But when it comes down to it, both players showed the uglier side of hockey and deserve to be suspended.

All of this got started when Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Bruce Orpik hit Boston Bruins’ forward Loui Eriksson. At first it looked like another hard hit that happened to leave Eriksson woozy and slow to get up. But the replays show that Orpik did catch Eriksson on the chin, although it doesn’t look intentional, in our opinion. Either way, there is concern for Eriksson since he has already missed five games this season with a concussion after being the victim of another dirty hit. Watch the video below and see the hit that sparked everything.

Now enter our main villains, starting with the Thornton of the Bruins. As expected, the Boston tough guy went after Orpik during their first shift on the ice together. Thornton tried to like heck to get Orpik to fight but the Penguins’ defender wouldn’t drop the gloves and Thornton ended up getting a minor penalty.

However, things would escalate again later in the first period when our other villain, and Penguins’ forward, Neal kneed Boston’s Brad Marchand in the head as the Bruin forward was on the ice. As usual a gathering of players occurred, including Orpik and Thornton. But things got nasty when Thornton slew footed Orpik and punched the Pittsburgh defenseman in the head while he was on the ice. Watch the video below of both incidents.

As you can see, Orpik leaves the ice on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital. Marchand got up and escaped major injury.

The National Hockey League has already comeback and issued Neal a five-game suspension. We say well done Brandon Shanahan and the NHL Department of Player Safety.

But that leaves us wondering what type of suspension Thornton will get. He is currently suspended indefinitely as he awaits an in-person hearing schedule for Friday, Dec. 13. We believe that a suspension of at least 10 games can be expected, and here is why.

Although, Thornton has no previous disciplinary history with the NHL, the League takes whether or not the victim of any infraction was injured. So while people may think that the headaches and neck stiffness that Orpik is experiencing are not that severe, the memory loss that has occurred is. In fact, Orpik cannot remember anything from after Saturday night’s national anthem. Memory loss is a brain injury, and brain injuries are as severe as injuries get.

So as we wait the NHL’s ruling, we leave with a video from the Department of Player Safety telling us why Neal received a five-game suspension. We also ask that you let us know who you think is the dirtier player by answering our poll below (there is a bet riding on this with the winner getting a free lunch so your participation is very important).

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Former players file concussion lawsuit against NHL

Big hits are have always been a part of hockey. Will the new lawsuit against the NHL eliminate big hits from the game? (Photo courtesy of the russianmachineneverbreaks.com)

Big hits are have always been a part of hockey. Will the new lawsuit against the NHL eliminate big hits from the game? (Photo courtesy of the russianmachineneverbreaks.com)

By Mike Larson, Nov. 26, 2013

We all knew it was going to happen sooner or later, and on Monday, a group of former National Hockey League players dropped the bomb.

Ten former players have filed a class action lawsuit, basically saying that the NHL didn’t do enough to protect them during their careers.

This wasn’t unexpected. After the National Football League agreed to pay $765 million to 4,500 former players who sued the league on the grounds that it didn’t protect them, everyone knew it was just a matter of time before hockey players got involved.

As of now, 10 players are involved, but it’s likely hundreds, if not thousands more will join it. According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, the players involved are Gary Leeman, Brad Aiken, Darren Banks, Curt Bennett, Richard Dunn, Warren Holmes, Bob Manno, Blair Stewart, Morris Titanic, and Rick Vaive.

So…it’s not exactly a star-studded list. At first glance, the only player who we even recognized was Darren Banks, and that’s only because he played a season for the Detroit Vipers of the now defunct International Hockey League. And we’re not even sure why Banks is suing. He only played 20 career NHL games, but whatever.

The suit, which is being handled jointly by a law firm in Laguna Hills, Calif., and another firm in Baltimore, alleges that the NHL should have done more to protect players from head injuries.

Here’s an excerpt of a release from the lawyers:

“The class action lawsuit, which is being leveled against the National Hockey League on behalf of former players, alleges that the NHL has failed to effectively respond to the head injuries sustained by players. The lawsuit contends that the NHL had behaved negligently and fraudulently in regards to the player sustained head trauma over the past decade.”

So here it is. The concussion discussion has officially made it into the hockey world. Sure, people talked about it before in terms of players like Eric Lindros and Paul Kariya, but it always seemed the conversations were about player toughness, not about safety.

But danger is the rule and injuries are an accepted rule in any contact sport, right? Is it fair for players, (at least one of the players involved in this lawsuit played without a helmet even though the league mandated that all incoming players had to protect their domes) to act like they didn’t know the sport was dangerous? Is it fair to blame the league?

I guess those are questions for the lawyers.

However, if what happened in the NFL case is any indication, this thing could get really expensive for the NHL.