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Shawn Thornton suspension: Bruins forward banned for 15 games

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After an ugly incident in Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Department of Player Safety has suspended Shawn Thornton for 15 games.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

There's been plenty of watching and waiting. Since Shawn Thornton took down and then took out Brooks Orpik on Saturday in an ugly incident that sent the Penguins defenseman to Mass. General Hospital, and sidelined him with a concussion, many have speculated on how many games the Bruins forward would be suspended.

On Saturday, Brendan Shanahan and the NHL made that determination, handing Thornton a 15-game suspension.

The supplemental discipline was the second incident from that Bruins-Penguins game to draw a suspension, as James Neal has already been suspended five games for delivering a knee to the head of a prone Brad Marchand.

Thornton's suspension was bound to be long for a number of reasons. The in-person hearing, for starters, indicated he'd be getting more than five games. With a number of incidents recently involving player safety, many speculated Shanahan and co. would attempt to make a statement with this Thornton verdict.

Whether or not Thornton was going after Orpik to exact revenge on for an earlier hit that knocked out Loui Eriksson, it was clear the NHL needed to take a stand against this kind of behavior.

A rugged fourth line enforcer, Thornton doesn't have a history of supplemental discipline, which might have spared him from a longer suspension. Thornton has five fighting majors this year, and his 41 penalty minutes are the 41st most in the NHL.

Another element that could have influenced this suspension is the update on Orpik, who skated Friday for the first time since being placed on IR after suffering that concussion, per Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Thornton has not been in the Bruins lineup since that game against Pittsburgh, missing three games in during that stretch. With those games considered part of the suspension, Thornton will be eligible to return on Jan. 11 against the San Jose Sharks.

The Bruins and Penguins have played all three of their regular season games against each other this season, and one can only imagine what a rematch in the playoffs would look like.

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