Why Shawn Thornton’s Actions Will Kill Fighting in the NHL

Tom Kelly, Sports Writer

Let me just start out by saying, I am a huge supporter of fighting in hockey. I absolutely love it because it revs the fans and players up, and it draws casual fans to the game. But, I don’t give it much longer to survive after Shawn Thornton’s mugging of Brooks Orpik at 11:56 of the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 7th.

Now, before you start jumping up and down, let me put this into context: Shawn Thornton was responding to a border line hit delivered by Orpik to Bruins forward Loui Eriksson that took him out of the game with a concussion.  Having said that, I don’t understand why Shawn Thornton felt it was necessary to knock Orpik out like that.

Think about it: Brooks Orpik has a reputation of being a cheap shot artist and rarely dropping the gloves. Basically a taller Brad Marchand. So is it really that smart for Shawn Thornton to try to pick a fight with a guy who is just going to duck behind the official? How does that benefit you and your team?

Okay, back to the incident.

What basically happened was that Shawn Thornton came from the opposite end of the ice and flat out maimed Brooks Orpik for no good reason.  Let me tell you, those were the actions of a nine year-old. Does a real man sneak up behind someone and plaster him when he is not looking? No, a coward does.  If you don’t believe me, watch the video above!!  Was it really anything more than a mugging?

What does this mean for fighting, you ask?

Well, it has pretty much sealed its fate. In about 5-10 years fighting will be an ancient memory because of this incident.

I am being this negative because Shawn Thornton has been a great example of why fighting should stay in the game. This man has long been an example of a player who always stays within the rules and never crosses any lines. Because of this, we pro-fighting people could always point to him and say “that is why fighting should stay.” And now? Shawn Thornton is now an example of why fighting should go.

This incident has gave fighting a wrong name because this wasn’t a fight.  It was an assault.  Since they don’t know the difference, the anti-fighting people are now going to argue that every NHL enforcer will do the same thing under the same circumstances, even the good ones.  They are also going to argue that this incident has proven that fighting can result in serious injury, no matter who is involved.


At this point, it doesn’t look good.


In my opinion, in a predicament like this one, you have to pick a fight with another bruiser. You cannot try to pick a fight with someone who is just going to turtle. You must find a way around the  Orpiks of the world. At least, that’s the way I see it.

Shawn Thornton did receive a right and just 15 game suspension for his mugging, but the long term effects on the state of fighting in the NHL remains to be seen.

What do you think about the Shawn Thornton incident?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.