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Top Line: Thornton decision reactions; Marchand's creative taunts; more links

bostonblogphoto Boston's Brad Marchand taunted the Canucks by "raising the Cup" in front of the Vancouver bench. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• The big news of the day was the stunning 15-game suspension handed down to Shawn Thornton and, not surprisingly, reactions to the verdict swung wildly in both directions. In Boston, an appeal was hinted at after what Stephen Harris called "a pretty crappy conclusion". Nationally, Nick Cotsonika makes the case that Brendan Shanahan should be given a mandate to do more to deter this kind of act in the future.

• A bit of high-volume coaching magic from John Tortorella helped lift the Canucks to their seventh-straight victory last night, but all anyone is talking about after the 6-2 throttling of the Bruins is the antics of Brad Marchand. First, Boston's super-pest taunted Henrik Sedin by kissing his ring finger and then he upped the ante by "raising the Cup" in front of the Vancouver bench. Creative, sure, but his coach, Claude Julien, was not impressed.

Jarome Iginla's hand was a bit worse for wear after his bout with Ryan Kesler. What does the guy do? Gets it taped up, comes back out, and then gets in a tussle later in the game with Dan Hamhuis. What a warrior.

• Check out the mask Jonathan Bernier had prepared specially for the Winter Classic, which he calls a tribute to pond hockey.

• Don Cherry showed off a pretty spectacular Christmas jacket on Coach's Corner, then called Justin Abdelkader and Alex Goligoski "dummies" for putting themselves in a position to get hurt in yesterday's action.

• The reviewers were not kind after watching the opening episode of HBO's "24/7," calling it "slow" and "not particularly colorful."

• The Stars got on a roll yesterday in Winnipeg, and so did Mike Heika, who dipped into our shared memories of classic Christmas cartoons to illustrate the misfit nature of this team.

• While there's hope for a brighter future in Dallas, two of Winnipeg's top stars say a change is needed for the Jets to pull themselves out of their tailspin of mediocrity. At some point, coach Claude Noel has to bear some responsibility for a team that continues to make as many unforced errors as this one does. That point could come this week.

• Or perhaps petulant star Evander Kane or hard-rock defender Mark Stuart will find themselves on the trading block.

• Say you're an aspiring NHL general manager and you get two job offers: one from the Sabres and one from the Flames. Which one do you take?

Martin Jones is making a lot of scouts look bad for passing him up in the entry draft. The unheralded stopper is now 5-0 for his NHL career after knocking off the Senators on Saturday.

• With a playoff ceiling set optimistically at the second round, the Rangers are a team that has no identity and little hope for the future. That's the grim backdrop as decisions have to be made on the futures of Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi. Odds are the disappointing duo will be re-signed and the status quo maintained, but doesn't this franchise deserve more vision than that?

• Mike Russo touches on a coach's apology and the sad decline of Dany Heatley in his Sunday column.

• Steve Simmons says that Brian's Burke's unkempt appearance at the press conference announcing the firing of Calgary GM Jay Feaster was a carefully calculated move.

• News flash:  Paul Bissonnette scores!

• Tal Pinchevsky offers a terrific piece on Melissa Samoskevich, a promising young player and a native of Sandy Hook, on the anniversary of the tragic school shooting that defined the town and gave her new focus.

Marian Gaborik. Remember him?

• Can Team USA defend the gold medal it won at last year's World Junior Championships? With training camp getting underway today, Chris Peters offers a primer on this year's hopefuls.
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