Bruins’ Shawn Thornton appealing 15-game suspension

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A source close to Shawn Thornton told that the Bruins enforcer has officially submitted a written appeal of his 15-game suspension by the NHL for an attack on Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik.

Thornton skated with the Bruins at a Ristuccia Arena practice on Monday morning, sat in on conference calls with both the NHLPA and his own representation for nearly four hours and will now wait for a ruling by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Buffalo Sabres agitator Patrick Kaleta went through the same process over a 10-game suspension earlier this season, but Bettman upheld the ban as the sole person adjudicating on the first level of an appeal.

NHL players have a second option for an appeal with a neutral arbiter following the appeal to the commissioner’s office on suspensions of more than six games, but no player has tested that part of the process in the new CBA.

One would expect that Thornton will try to plea down the harsh 15-game sentence since he is a first-time offender who has been known as an honest player throughout his 11-year career. The league will likely counter by pointing out the violent nature -- and end result -- of the exchange between Thornton and Orpik, saying it was deserving of such a stiff, unprecedented penalty.

Thornton has admitted wrongdoing in the incident and deserves a lengthy suspension, but from a financial standpoint it makes sense for Thornton ($1.1 million salary this season) to attempt an appeal. As is currently stands, Thornton's suspension will keep him out of game action until Jan. 11 against the San Jose Sharks and will cost him $85,000 in game checks.

Thornton has maintained that he won’t be commenting on the suspension, or the impending appeal, until the process has exhausted itself over the next few weeks.

- Joe Haggerty, CSN New England

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