BOSTON (CBS) – Shawn Thornton has been dishing out punishment in the NHL for 11 years, but on Saturday, the league came down hard on the Bruins forward.

After and in-person hearing with the league on Friday, the NHL decided on a 15 game suspension for Thornton over his actions in last Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The suspension was first reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger.

“I am aware of today’s ruling by the NHL Department of Player Safety. I will be consulting with the Bruins, my representation and the NHLPA about next steps, and will be in a position to address the matter publicly after speaking with those parties. Until then I will have no further comment,” Thornton said in a release.

During a stoppage in play, Thornton skated nearly the length of the ice and pulled Penguins defenseman Bruce Orpik down to the ice from behind, throwing two punches at his face before being restrained. Orpik was taken off the ice on a stretcher and spent the night in a Boston hospital. He was placed on the IR a few days later, but did return to ice  at Penguins practice on Friday.

All of that started after Orpik threw a borderline hit on Loui Eriksson in the opening minute of the game, knocking the Bruins forward out of the game and onto the IR with his second concussion of the season. Thornton challenged Orpik to a fight shortly after, but he declined.

A few minutes later, Thornton took his chance to get some revenge on the Pittsburgh defenseman.

Thornton sounded distraught after the win, nearly breaking down when asked about his on-ice behavior.

“Obviously, I made a mistake,” Thornton said after the game. “It was not my intention. I feel awful. I felt sick all game.”

The suspension is the first of Thornton’s career. He’ll be eligible to return on January 11 against San Jose.


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