Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 12/15/13 at 10:57 AM ET
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
It’s a severe sentence for Thornton, a first-time offender who compiled nearly 900 PIMs without incident as an NHL enforcer. He has a well-deserved reputation of being clean and honorable, and had never crossed the line to hurt a fellow player. Still, a harsh penalty is justified on nearly every level given his regrettable actions, though the NHL got it right by coming in under the 20-game suspension mark that defines despicable acts from guys like Marty McSorley and Todd Bertuzzi.
However, the decision to throw the book at an honest, respectable enforcer like Thornton could also be setting a dangerous precedent.
The suspension covers the league in the wake of anti-fighting sentiments with a growing number of lawsuits on the horizon, and it placates the non-hockey crowd that can’t begin to understand the sometimes violent code of honor that’s always existed in hockey. It’s a delicate balance between predator and enforcer that’s always kept both NHL species in check.
But now the scales seem to be starting to tip more toward the hyena than the lion.
Thornton’s suspension sends the message to players like Orpik that it’s okay to target skill players around the NHL with a “human missile” hit like the one the Pittsburgh defenseman was intent on delivering last weekend to Loui Eriksson, which is what prompted Thornton's response.
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