In 329 career games, Devils forward Cam Janssen has 764 penalty minutes, many of which have been racked up in marathon fights posted on YouTube.
As a fourth-liner who is never shy about dropping the gloves, Janssen has a lot in common with Bruins forward Shawn Thornton (above, with Janssen). Today, following his team's morning skate, Janssen offered his thoughts about Thornton's attack on Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik last week:
What was your reaction to what happened between Orpik and Thornton?
"You never, ever want to see something like that. Anybody that gets hurts like that – I’ve been in that situation – you never want to see that, somebody get hurt, get knocked silly that. In saying that, Thornton was definitely riled up. He’s a very honest guy. He’s an honest, tough guy who has a tremendous amount of respect for me and what I hear, a lot of people in the league. Orpik, he’s a great player. I do respect him a lot. He’s a hell of a hockey player. He hits guys, he catches guy with their head down. He hurts guys because he’s powerful in his hits. I do the same thing. But you do that, you crush guys like that, you’re going to have to step up and stick up for yourself once in a while. Because if you don’t do that, then the other team feels like they haven’t had their justice yet. Then the game becomes a donnybrook."
You don’t fight Thornton, Thornton calls you out, he’s calling you out in front of everybody, and you don’t fight, then it’s not over. Then we’ve got to get our justice. We’ve got to get our justice and then something happens and boom, that happens. All of a sudden he’s hurt. If Orpik would, once in a while … Once in a while … you don’t have to trade punches, you don’t have to stand in there and go toe to toe. If Orpik just would have dropped his gloves and grabbed on – he’s a strong guy – grabbed on, held off Thornton, maybe took a couple [punches], and threw him down or whatever the case it, then it’s over. Then it’s over. Then it’s done. You fought. You stuck up for yourself. If you don’t do that, somebody else on Orpik’s team, somebody on Pittsburgh has to do it for you because of what you did."
"If Orpik would have just stepped up – all he had to do was grab and hold on, hold on to him – then everything would have quieted down. You stuck up for yourself. You knocked [Bruins forward Loui Eriksson] out. You stuck up for yourself. All of sudden it’s over. You fought. Boom."
Sidney Crosby made the point that Orpik is a top pairing defenseman who plays against an opponent's top line most games. If you gets into a fight, does he hurt his team?
"Yeah but I don’t care who you are. You lay guys out, you hit like that and you hurt guys – [Red Wings defenseman Niklas] Kronwall does the same thing – you step up and hit like that and you knock guys out and you hurt guys – which is completely fine, don’t get me wrong … I do the same thing – it doesn’t matter. You still do that. You’re going to have to stick up for yourself once in a while. Pay the piper. Because if you don’t somebody else on your team is going to have to do it. That would calm everything down. Maybe that wouldn’t have happened. Yeah, he’s a top pair defenseman but if you still step up and hit guys on a regular basis, once in a while you’re going to have to stick up for yourself and drop the gloves and prevent stuff like that happening. It might have been somebody else. Orpik might not have been on the ice and Thornton could have done that to somebody else. It’s a respect thing."
Is the idea that a legal hit has to be "answered" with a fight a relatively new phenomenon?
"No. That’s been in hockey forever. It’s died off. Guys get away with it all the time. They hit guys and they don’t stick up and defend themselves and all of a sudden, stuff like this happens now. Guys do that more and more and don’t stick up for themselves. Okay, you know what, I did knock that kid out. Yeah, it was borderline. It’s not like it was a clean it. It was iffy. It was still iffy. So that amplifies it. It wasn’t a clean hit. It happens more than it used to. It didn’t matter who you are, you are going to have to fight somebody. No matter what. … It happens less and less now. It used to be guys had more respect. Now, guys can do it and get away with it."
If Thornton doesn't try to fight Orpik, is he doing his job?
"He’s got to step and do something about that. Absolutely. 100 percent, step up and do something. No doubt about it. You can’t let that happen. You can’t let him get away with that. Not saying what he did was correct. He should have spun him around, challenge him again, see what happened there and go from there. But you don’t want to … a guy’s looking away and slewfoot. Turn him around so he’s facing you. Now you know I’m here. Now if you don’t put your guard up, and I hit you, that’s your fault. You see me coming, you know I’m right in front of you, that’s your fault. He shouldn’t have done what he did. Stuff happens in the heat of the moment … Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of it too. But absolutely, he’s got to… it’s your teammate, it’s your brother. You can’t have it. You can’t. You have to step up and do something within reason. It’s a tough situation."
(Photos: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)