You figured the NHL was going to make an example out of Shawn Thornton for what he did, and it appears the league will do just that. The Boston Bruins' forward will be suspended 15 games for his actions toward Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Thornton slew footed Orpik from behind in a scrum, and then punched him twice while he was down, knocking out Orpik on the second hit.
If the suspension holds, Thornton would not be able to return to the Boston lineup until January 11th against San Jose. Quite frankly, the schedule of games he's missing isn't all that frightening. He'll miss tilts against the Flames, two against the Sabres, Predators and Senators each, and one each against the Islanders and Jets, along with a three-game road trip in California. Not that they'll need Thornton to win them, but still, it isn't the most fearsome of 15-game stretches.
Some will argue that it was too little because of the nature of the incident, some will argue too strong because he is a first-time offender, but you have to look at it as the league splitting the difference. If anything, they probably gave Thornton too much leeway because of his lack of a record. You could argue if a Raffi Torres had committed this act, he'd have been suspended an entire season. But, you have to let the NHL go on what they go on, so a long, but not "out there" suspension is what you were probably going to get.
For whatever it's worth, the NHL did what it had to do, but they were probably on the safe side. What Thornton did was vicious and dangerous, regardless of what Orpik (in hitting Loui Eriksson on an earlier play) or James Neal (who should've been suspended longer for a cheap knee to the head on Brad Marchand) did. He knocked out a player who was already lying on the ice from a dumb slew foot. Not only is it vicious in normal terms, but it goes against hockey's precious "Code" that's supposed to keep players safe in the first place.