Murph’s Musings: NHL Safety Exec: Shawn Thornton “Poster Boy” of Tough Hockey

Shawn Thornton
Shawn Thornton
Jean Yves Ahern USA TODAY Sports

Came away with some interesting tidbits on my weekly show “Murphy’s Hockey Law” this Saturday. NHL Vice President of Player Safety & Hockey Operations Damian Echevarrieta joined me to give a behind the scenes look on how suspensions and fines are determined. He also gave some interesting insight into what he agreed was one of the toughest decisions he and NHL Vice President of Hockey and Business Development and Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan have had to make and that is the 15-game suspension handed down to Shawn Thornton in December. As Echevarrieta pointed out, suspending a guy they want other players to emulate was very difficult.

“The thing that really killed us is that we love Shawn. We think he’s the kind of hockey player that gets it. He has respect for his opponents; he plays a really hard physical game but he plays within the limits. So it was tough to suspend a guy that we a lot of respect for and that we use as a poster boy to say you can still play tough hockey and we’re not ruining the game for guys like Shawn Thornton in the league. So that was difficult for us because everybody thinks we came down hard on that guy and we’re actually big fans of his.”
Pens weren’t and aren’t considering moving Letang
Later in the show Penguins Assistant To The General Manager Tom Fitzgerald discussed the status of Penguins star defenseman Kris Letang who recently suffered a stroke but also dispelled trade rumors surrounding Letang a couple weeks ago. From the sounds of it, Pittsburgh wasn’t considering moving Letang and don’t plan on such a move for the foreseeable future.
“Kris Letang is definitely a player that we’ve committed to long term for a reason,” Fitzgerald said. “His skill, his toughness, his grit, his speed and just everything everybody sees on the ice. He’s also a great kid off the ice and that’s what we want. We have it and all this stuff is a moot point anyways so he’s a long term Penguin.”
What contender could make Brodeur A No.1?
After acknowledging a couple weeks ago that he wouldn’t object to a trade out of New Jersey if it made sense for him and the team, Martin Brodeur‘s name is sure to be swirling around the trade rumor circuit as the NHL returns later this month and we approach the March 5 NHL trade deadline. But really what contender out there truly needs a No.1 goalie and do they want the current Martin Brodeur to be that guy? To me the only team that might make sense is Minnesota Wild. The Wild continue to wait on the uncertain status of Josh Harding who is dealing with MS but knowing he’ll likely be back for next season and considering the way he played when healthy this season, they’re not going to pay the hefty ransom for Ryan Miller another UFA. Brodeur likely will be a lot cheaper and could at least solve their woes right now without mortgaging the future.
Will the Coyotes howl at the deadline?
The Coyotes entered the Olympic break tied with Dallas in points with 64 but the Stars held the last wild card spot. Expectations were high for the Desert Dogs this season and they admittedly have disappointed. But with new ownership that said they’re willing to build a winner in place will they back that up at the deadline and give the team the green light to add? If they do, Phoenix could be the dark horse team at the deadline. Players love living there and they may be able to acquire a rental and then convince him to sign on long term in the summer. Keep an eye on Coyotes GM Don Maloney when the NHL returns as he tries to get this team that is only two years removed from the Western Conference finals back on track.
Play of the Week
Finally, since I’m a huge music fan, for the last Murph’s Musings of each week, I’m going to post a song as the “Play Of The Week”. Last Thursday was Bob Marley’s birthday so here’s a full Marley concert at Harvard Stadium from July 21, 1979. Enjoy!
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James Murphy
Jimmy Murphy has covered the NHL in print, radio and television for the last 13 years. In addition to his work here at, he currently hosts The Top Shelf Radio Show heard every Monday-Friday 1-3 PM ET on and 2-3 PM ET on Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio.