VANCOUVER — Shawn Thornton finally had his in-person hearing with Brendan Shanahan and the NHL Player Safety Department Friday in New York. But Shanahan, the league’s senior vice president for player safety, decided to take some additional time to think over the decision, which will come down Saturday.
Saturday marks one week since Thornton slew-footed Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and punched him while he was on the ice. The attack was in response to Orpik’s hit on the Bruins’ Loui Eriksson, which took him out of the game just 21 seconds after it began. Orpik was removed from the ice on a stretcher after losing consciousness, went to the hospital, and was placed on injured reserve with a concussion.
The hit by Oprik resulted in Eriksson’s second concussion in 45 days. It was a questionable hit — coach Claude Julien said he disagreed with Penguins coach Dan Bylsma’s contention that it was legal — but did not result in a hearing with Player Safety.
Thornton’s actions, however, did, and the enforcer is likely to get a lengthy suspension, despite not having prior supplementary discipline on his record. The in-person hearing means the NHL can suspend Thornton for at least six games. He has already missed three games, which will be counted toward his suspension.
The delay may help Thornton and the Bruins, who scheduled this hearing as far out as the league would let them, partly to monitor the condition of Orpik. The defenseman was back on the ice Friday, skating with other injured teammates before the Penguins practice, though Bylsma said he is still symptomatic, according to reporters in Pittsburgh.
The league already suspended the Penguins’ James Neal for five games for his actions in that game. Neal, who has had prior supplementary discipline, kneed Brad Marchand in the head moments before the incident with Thornton and Orpik.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli flew from Edmonton to New York after the Bruins’ game against the Oilers Thursday to be in attendance for the hearing.
This week has been a good one for Jarome Iginla. The former Flames star got the reception of a lifetime in his return to Calgary, then had about 30 friends and family in the stands at Rexall Place as he played in his hometown of Edmonton two nights later.
But perhaps the best news is that Iginla seems to have regained his scoring touch. He scored a key goal against the Maple Leafs Sunday, added a first-period strike Thursday, then knocked in an empty-netter to ice the game against Edmonton. That’s three goals in three games, giving him eight on the season. That’s tied with Torey Krug for third on the team behind Milan Lucic (11) and Patrice Bergeron (9).
“I feel like they’re coming,” Iginla said Thursday. “Just keep trying to get some good shots and sometimes the bounces come and they go [in]. I’ve been getting some good looks. The pass in Toronto from Looch is point blank. [Thursday], having Looch right in front, a nice give-and-go with [Dennis Seidenberg]. So it does feel like it’s starting to come, we’re starting to create a few more.
“Puck’s starting to feel better. Maybe not pressing as much. But honestly, also, you need some good breaks, too. But you’ll take them and you want to use them to jumpstart and hopefully springboard off of.”
Pain and gain
Seidenberg, who didn’t miss a shift after taking a puck to the face in the third period on Thursday, also managed to fill up the stat sheet. He scored his first goal of the season, added an assist, three hits, and four blocked shots . . . The Bruins did not practice Friday in Vancouver ahead of their game Saturday night with the Canucks. It is the first time the team is in Vancouver since their Game 7 win in the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. The city rioted after the Bruins won the Cup. The last game between the teams, in Jan. 7, 2012, also resulted in supplementary discipline. Marchand got five games for a predatory hit on Sami Salo.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.