Even before we got confirmation that Shawn Thornton had been handed a 15-game suspension, Bruins president Cam Neely was willing to attack the ruling after hearing the initial reports.
“Higher than I expected and higher than I think is warranted,” Neely told the Boston Herald in an exclusive interview, referring to the length of the ban.
Neely doesn’t deny that Thornton’s actions were “ugly,” but he pointed to Pittsburgh forward James Neal’s five-game suspension for kneeing Boston’s Brad Marchand in the head during the same contest as an example of why he feels Thornton’s punishment was excessive.
“We’ve had our fair share of players hurt badly by concussions,” Neely told the Herald. “I don’t think anyone’s gotten a 15-game suspension out of those. Thornton is a guy who plays the role he plays and has never had any suspensions or issues. It comes down a little harsh for me.”
Thornton is being punished for slew-footing Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and then punching him in the head. NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan called Thornton’s actions an “act of retribution.”