Brooks Orpik was knocked unconscious when he took three gloved, undefended punches from Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton Saturday night. Orpik doesn't remember leaving the ice on a stretcher. He doesn't remember hitting Loui Eriksson. According to Penguins general manager Ray Shero, the last thing Orpik remembered from the Penguins' tilt against the Bruins is the national anthem.
Shero said Orpik doesn't remember anything that happened after the anthem Saturday night. He's doing OK, resting, has headaches, neck ache.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) December 10, 2013
That's pretty scary. It's also pretty important as you better believe that is going to be taken into consideration when the NHL finally meets with Thornton for his in-person hearing. The NHL Department of Player Safety takes into consideration whether or not the victim of an infraction was injured and how seriously. Unconscious with memory loss is pretty serious.
It seems it would be pretty safe to expect Thornton's attack on Orpik is going to generate a suspension of 10 games or more at this point.
Also, Orpik's recovery certainly comes into question. With head and neck injuries of any kind, it's not something the team will want to rush. It's also unpredictable. Assuming Orpik's concussion is of the severe variety, it's anyone's guess as to when he'll be able to return.
You also have to wonder about what something like that could do to Orpik's long-term health. Hopefully, not much, but the more that is learned about head injuries, the scarier they become it seems.
When it comes to the Penguins' lineup, it's another in a long list of injuries that have prevented the team from icing its optimal roster once this season. Injuries have bitten Pittsburgh hard the last few years.
On top of missing Orpik, the team is already without Rob Scuderi and Paul Martin on defense. That's a lot of losses on the back end.
The good news is that Sidney Crosby has been just fine this season and has maintained his typical productivity as well. The Penguins have been able to weather the storm all season long and still have the best record in the East.
This next stretch is going to be tough, especially without several key players. Lucky for them, the Pens have built quite a cushion between them and the rest of the Metropolitan Division.