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Could Shawn Thornton be the first player to appeal to an independent arbitrator?

Dec 14, 2013, 6:44 PM EDT

thorntonpregamegetty Getty Images

Shawn Thornton‘s agent isn’t sure if the Boston Bruins forward will appeal his 15-game suspension to begin with, but if he does, things could get awfully interesting.

So far,’s Joe Haggerty reports that Thornton and the Bruins are assessing what kind of options they have. It’s no shock that the quotes seem pretty matter-of-fact, then.

“At this time, we will decline comment until process is complete and Shawn has exhausted all rights available to him,” Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said.

“I will be consulting with the [Bruins], my representation and the NHLPA about next steps,” Thornton said. “Until then I’ll have no further comment.”

Let’s move on from boring lawyer talk to more interesting lawyer talk: Haggerty believes that Thornton, 36, could be the first player to appeal his suspension all the way to an independent arbitrator. The appeal would first go through NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, so that process could take quite a while.

Still, that’s an interesting situation to watch. As you may remember, Patrick Kaleta nearly went that far regarding his 10-game suspension (reportedly causing a little bit of division within the NHLPA in the process) before eventually accepting his punishment.

Keep in mind that this is merely Haggerty’s opinion, as Thornton might not appeal it at all.

PHT will share the Pittsburgh Penguins’ reactions in a post later on tonight.

  1. joey4id - Dec 14, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Torres appealed his 25 game suspension, which was reduced to 21 afterwards.

    “Brendan Shanahan suspended Torres for 25 games for the hit—tied for the second-longest suspension for an on-ice incident in modern NHL history—sidelining Torres for the rest of the playoffs.[40] The league reduced Torres’ suspension to 21 games on appeal over the summer”

    • joey4id - Dec 14, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      Unless this was under the old CBA. Hmmm!

      • jimw81 - Dec 15, 2013 at 12:30 AM

        it was added to the cba protect the players from the idiocy of shanaban and bettman.

      • joey4id - Dec 15, 2013 at 9:52 AM

        How ironic that they created a process to protect the players from the idiocy of Shanahan and Bettman, who are themselves responsible to protect the players from the idiocy of other players.

  2. pitpenguinsrulez - Dec 14, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Your suspended for 15 games…deal with it! It’s not like the Bruins are struggling to win games without you in the lineup.

  3. 7mantel - Dec 14, 2013 at 6:59 PM

    He should have gotten the same punishment as Neal , the intent was the same !

    • spitfisher - Dec 14, 2013 at 7:14 PM

      Read the rules, the extent of the injury plays into the severity of the crime

      • 7mantel - Dec 14, 2013 at 7:20 PM

        It should not be that way, the intent to injure is the same if a player is hurt or not.The pain threshold of one person is not the same as another .

      • cambee99 - Dec 14, 2013 at 10:42 PM

        I will take a man at his word.

        However, there has been no neurocognitive testing done on Orpik. You have no idea what the extent of his injury is.

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Dec 14, 2013 at 7:44 PM

      I’ll contend that what Neal did was far more dangerous and had the potential to cause more serious injury. Not excusing or condoning either action but no one thought that Orpik would get knocked out by a couple of gloved punches, but this is another case of punishing the result not the action. It should all be based on intent not injury. The rules should be reviewed.

      • pittsburghmohawk - Dec 15, 2013 at 12:20 AM

        Really? Punching a defenseless player who’s head is against the ice and you don’t think he could get “knocked out”? I guess I understand that, if you’re retarded. Tell me, whatpart of Thornton’s actions were part of hockey? Neal knee’d Marchand during a play. Do you know why? Because it was Marchand. During the course of a play, he did what Marchand has done many times himself, take a cheap shot at someone. The only difference is that Marchand does tat to anybody, Neal probably would have avoided any other Bruin. Neal got 5 games, well deserved. Thornton got 15, he should be thankful that is all he got.

      • broadstreetbeatdown - Dec 15, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        Once again a Penguins fan excusing the actions of one of his darlings. Neal is a known scummer and headhunter. It doesn’t matter if it was Marchand or not. I don’t expect you to see the situation objectively so why bother.

    • polegojim - Dec 14, 2013 at 8:45 PM

      7mantel – you’re completely oblivious.

      • 7mantel - Dec 14, 2013 at 9:38 PM

        oblivious to what ? his intent to injure !

    • joey4id - Dec 15, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      There is absolutely zero references to “intent to injure” in the rule book. There are references to kneeing, but there are no references under any of the infractions that indicate a major penalty shall be assessed based on intent to injure. Although it was an intentional knee, it doesn’t mean intent to injure. What really matters is the act of kneeing, and the results of the offense. You cannot make up the rules as you want. One can argue that they need to change, but if you understood them, then you wouldn’t offer comments that have no substance. Intent to injure is nearly impossible to prove.

      You want to use intent to injure, then every fight would result in a suspension because throwing a punch at someone’s head can be, according to you, intent to injure.

      • 7mantel - Dec 16, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        I think you need to relax a bit there !

      • joey4id - Dec 16, 2013 at 4:17 PM

        oh! Gee! Thank you, Mr. Mantel. :-) One of my all time favorites for sure. Cheers! BTW you need to move on to more recent articles.

      • 7mantel - Dec 16, 2013 at 7:48 PM

        lol only saw your post today. Thanks for calling me Mr. too many kids today don’t respect their elders .

  4. muckleflugga - Dec 14, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    if thornton pursues appeal through arbitration, it will follow script designed to enhance perception the league handed a considered, rational and weighty penalty

    if thornton, his agents and bruins were to disappear into the night, we and everyone involved in the concussion lawsuits might believe the penalty to be lenient…

    how could a responsible steward of the game be doing anything but shirking responsibility if discipline and penalty allow miscreants to walk laughing; why would thornton’s camp accept the current ruling uncontested, unless they felt they’d won the day…?


    paper will be filed, damage control will play, media scrums will ensue, thornton’s people will rage, gary will wade-in, the farce will sell, and legal firms looking for a huge payday in class action, will scrutinize every filing and every word, looking for more ammo

    the nhl and bruins will orchestrate a mutual bluff holding the same hands, then they’ll get the hell out of dodge before the sorry incident gets more air than necessary…

  5. orrbourquechara - Dec 14, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    If he has the right than so be it.

    It was bad. He has served 3 already (tonight will be 4). Not sure you can look at it and say it’s ‘only’ 11 games left when most figured 10. I think he should just stand with the ruling.

    Easy to say when it’s not coming out of my paycheck.

  6. mclovinhockey - Dec 14, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    If I decide to slash a player in the head and the player does not get hurt, chances are I may not get a game (like Malkin) but if I punch someone in the face with my glove on and they get hurt, 15 games…
    It’s just the way the rules are, yes what Neal did (injury aside) was just as bad as what Thornton did (intent to injure wise) Neal had a history, Thornton injured a player. Guess injury out weights history by 300%.

    Meh, all I care about is the Orpik seems to be getting better.

  7. dirt2013 - Dec 14, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    15 games to 5 but ice time lost is about the same.

  8. csilojohnson - Dec 14, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    i think he meant idiot..

  9. jimw81 - Dec 15, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    NHL doesnt want this to go to a independent arbitrator b/c arbitrator will find inconsistencies in suspensions. I think thorton has a stong case, he can easy point to the emery none suspension.

    • joey4id - Dec 15, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      Are saying Emery who fought (which is part of the game as many say) another player who chose not to defend himself is the same as Thornton who attacked a player from behind, slew footed him to the ice, and then proceeded to pounding him while he was unable to protect himself? Really!

  10. sporkov - Dec 16, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Thornton should be thankful that it is not longer. I would love for him to appeal and the arbitrator turn around and double or triple it in respect to the other players in the league and their safety and their ability to earn a living and just keep their brain in one piece (figuratively).

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