Word just came in that Shawn Thornton has been suspended for 15 games by the NHL for his vicious attack on Brooks Orpik. After several attempts to engage him in a fight throughout the game, Thornton slew-footed him and beat him unconscious while Orpik lay defenceless on the ice.
It was pretty brutal. It was a cowardly act. It is just another thing that makes the NHL look like a league for goons. It makes the sport that so many of us love look like a complete joke, where we are sort of just waiting for somebody to die on the ice. Be it from something like a hit from behind, a brutal elbow to the head, or a grotesque attack on a defenseless victim.
And he gets suspended 15 games.
I personally believe that the conversation should have started at 40 games.
If the league wants to be serious about getting this kind of activity out the game, make the punishments unbelievably harsh. Maybe then someone will learn. Or maybe even, teams may stop employing these no-skill cowards who contribute so little to the actual sport of hockey, and do even less to provide your team with an advantage that will help you win the game. You know, by doing hockey type things like scoring or setting up goals.
Of course there are dinosaurs out there (Don Cherry, Brian Burke) who believe that fighters are honourable and important parts to a teams success. And they are entitled to their opinions. But what will it take for us to realize that with the size and strength of these men, that someone will die on the ice at the highest level? Where would the league go from there?
Get the goons out. Make them pay for their actions. 15 games is hefty, but not nearly enough.