Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby offered his prediction on what Boston’s Shawn Thornton will get as punishment for his attack on Pens defenseman Brooks Orpik.
“I have no idea. It’s hard to guess. Nealer (James Neal) got five. If I had to guess a number, I’d say 10. Right around there. Maybe even more.
“I’m sure they have a lot of different criteria to look at when they’re giving guys suspensions. I’m sure it’s going to be up there. It’s going to be steep.”
Thornton, who tripped Orpik and punched him twice while laying on the ice, was assessed a match penalty on the play and will have an in-person hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Friday afternoon to learn of his fate. He’s been suspended indefinitely ’til the hearing, while Orpik — who was stretchered off the ice following the attack — is currently on injured reserve with a concussion.
As Crosby mentioned, Neal received a five-game suspension for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head, an incident that preceded the Thornton-Orpik melee.
The two longest suspensions this season have both been 10 games in length. One was to Toronto’s David Clarkson for leaving the bench to engage in a fight — an automatic 10-gamer — while the other was given to Patrick Kaleta for a headshot on Columbus’ Jack Johnson, a suspension that had more to do with Kaleta’s reputation as a repeat offender than it did the actual hit (which didn’t injure Johnson, or force him to miss any significant time.)
Phoenix forward Paul Bissonnette was also given a 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to fight during a preseason game, but appealed on the grounds of insufficient video evidence and had his punishment reduced to three games.