Brooks Orpik was taken off the TD Garden ice on a stretcher. The former Boston College defenseman was injured during an altercation with Shawn Thornton at 11:06 of the first period. Replays showed Thornton driving the back of Orpik’s head into the ice and punching the defenseman.
The Penguins posted on Twitter that Orpik “was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital where he is alert and conscious.”
Thornton was given a match penalty after knocking out Orpik and was automatically suspended indefinitely because of it.
He had tried to engage Orpik in a fight earlier in the period. Orpik declined to fight and Thornton was called for roughing.
Thornton was trying to respond to an earlier hit by Orpik on Loui Eriksson. There was no penalty on the play. Eriksson was woozy after the hit and did not return. Eriksson suffered a concussion earlier this season after being hit by the Sabres’ John Scott.
After Saturday’s game, Thornton said he made a mistake and that he was told he’d have a hearing with the NHL over the incident.
“Listen, I feel awful. It wasn’t my intention. I know Brooksy, I’ve gotten to know him over the last seven years here, I skate with him in the summer, through the lockout. I’ve texted him a couple of times. I definitely feel awful. It was not what I wanted to see or what anyone wanted to see.”
According to Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune, Orpik returned to the team after his hospital visit and was cleared to travel home with his teammates. Coach Dan Bylsma said Orpik was unconscious on the ice after the incident.
Thornton said he “felt sick all game.”
“Obviously, I made a mistake. I’m aware of it. I’ve been told that I’ll be having a hearing and it’s hard for me to say much more other than that was not my intention.”