I seriously think things like this should cost the guy the remainder of the season. With all the monetary circumstances. Contact sport, fights whatever. Shit like this should be gone, period. This is given that Orpik is a pretty dirty player himself. Self-policing or not, sometimes hitting the pocket hard is the best thing. What Thornton did was gutless, cowardly and doesn't belong in hockey.
Dude, I'd just be happy it wasn't a full year.. This is really not that much better than the Bertuzzi incident - complete chickenshit, from behind, not in a play... beating down on the guy while he's on the ground.. (Frank) that guy.
Okay that's not AS BAD as Bertuzzi, but that's also not saying a whole lot.
Thornton (IIRC) had challenged Orpik to a fight earlier in the game and Orpik wouldn't go. The Code says that's done. It's over with. All Thornton can do at that point is to make sure he finishes EVERY check on the guy (which I absolutely would) and maybe a face-wash or something a little extra here and there but no matter how pissed you are at Orpik, you can't jump him. Makes Thornton no better than a punk.