TORONTO – The Boston Bruins arrived in Toronto hurting and expecting bad news.
A suspension was hanging over forward Shawn Thornton, after his meltdown in Saturday night’s 3-2 win over Pittsburgh sent Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik to hospital. Thonton, enraged at seeing several teammates injured in the game at TD Garden, is suspended pending an in-person disciplinary hearing.
“Last night was a tough night, I’ll be honest with you,” Boston coach Claude Julien said before Sunday night’s game in Toronto. “Because we don’t like to see what happened. It’s unfortunate. The incidents were very unfortunate.”
Forwards Loui Eriksson and Chris Kelly were both injured in the Pittsburgh game.
Eriksson sustained a concussion after being hit by Orpik and did not travel to Toronto for the start of the Bruins’ four-game road trip. Kelly was placed on long-term injured reserve after breaking his right fibula against Pittsburgh.
Bergeron said he had texted Eriksson, hearing back Sunday morning abut his teammate “not feeling great but it’s still early so hopefully he takes the time and it’s going to go away soon.”
Julien said he “respectfully” disagreed with Penguins coach Dan Bylsma that Orpik’s hit was a “good hard hit.”
“Eriksson touches the puck,” Bylsma said.
“He didn’t have the puck,” countered Julien. “In watching the replays, I thought Brooks was just kind of lining him up. No matter what, he was going to line up the hit more than even attempt to play the puck. Maybe people will argue that it touched his blade but it certainly wasn’t from him (Eriksson) trying to take a pass. It took a weird bounce off the boards.”
Julien said he will accept what the league decides and happily move on.
As for Thornton’s actions, Julien said his player will take his medicine. Thornton himself said he felt awful after the game.
“I agree, he did cross the line,” Julien said. “He got caught in the emotions. There’s nobody that’s proud of what happened last night. Absolutely not. So he’s going to suffer the consequences and so will we.
“But the one thing about Thorny is that anybody who knows him personally knows he’s a pretty honest player and a pretty honest person and if he said he really regretted it and felt bad, he really did. And I support his comment because I know he’s being truthful.
“That’s more than we can say about players that pretend it wasn’t done on purpose or (they) really didn’t mean it. Yet it’s pretty obvious when you look at it. Thorny did cross the line and some others did too. But sometimes you have to man up to those things and I think he did.”
Pittsburgh’s James Neal was assessed a kneeing penalty for a hit on Brad Marchand that preceded Thornton’s sucker-punch attack on Orpik. Neal said later there was no attempt to injure.
Orpik was stretchered off the ice and taken to hospital but was later released.
The Bruins recalled forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser from the Providence Bruins on an emergency basis.
Defenceman Adam McQuaid, sidelined by a lower-body injury, has also been placed on injured reserve. Defenceman Johnny Boychuk is also out with a back sprain, suffered on a hit in Montreal.