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NHL hands Thornton 15-game ban

<p>The National Hockey League issued a 15-game suspension to Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton on Saturday for his attack on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik during last weekend's meeting between the teams.</p>

New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The National Hockey League issued a 15-game suspension to Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton on Saturday for his attack on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik during last weekend's meeting between the teams.

The long-awaited ruling came seven days after Thornton was given a major penalty and game misconduct for sucker-punching Orpik during the first period of an eventual 3-2 Bruins victory.

Thornton has already sat out Boston's last three games while awaiting a hearing from the league, which took place Friday in New York, meaning he will be eligible to return for the Bruins' visit to San Jose on Jan. 11. The veteran enforcer also will forfeit $84,615.45 in salary for his actions.

Orpik, who was briefly unconscious on the ice, was sent to a local hospital for observation, but released that night and was able to travel back to Pittsburgh with his teammates.

The 11-year veteran was later diagnosed with a concussion and placed on injured reserve earlier this week.

Thornton went after Orpik in apparent retaliation for Penguins' forward James Neal having kneed Boston's Brad Marchand in the head while he laid defenseless on the ice earlier in the contest. Neal was previously given a five-game suspension that he is currently serving.

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