There are a couple things that I think are very odd, when I read this thread. Everyone brings up the knee by Neal. I don't get what that has to do with anything. One suspension-worthy offense doesn't validate another.
Also, I don't understand the focus on the result of the incident. It shouldn't matter if orpik was hurt or if he jumped up and started river dancing. Thornton assaulted someone, on the ice. It's the same reason emery should have been suspended.
Before anyone brings up McCarty, if a wings player did that now, I would say he should be suspended. When I was 8, McCarty turtling Lemieux was the most awesome thing ever. Now, I'd be troubled by it, especially if it was done the same way. What Bert did to Moore is a perfect example of why there should be no tolerance for this stuff. He never intended for the result to be what it was. But, stuff happens. Especially when you attack someone when he's not expecting it.
I think the proper punishment for this kind of attack is an automic 20 game suspension. A subsequent offense should be a year or more. This isn't like an illegal hit, for which it is harder to determine the intent. When you attack someone or swing for the head, it's pretty clear what you're trying to do.
I was 26 back then, and thought it was awesome that someone finally gave Lemieux what he deserved...Even better it being a Detroit Red Wings.
I'm 43, and still feel the same way - then again I'm a fan from a different era.