When Shawn Thornton was handed down a massive 15-game suspension for his attack on Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, the immediate question becaome would Thornton appeal the decision? He had 48 hours after the ruling to decide and on Monday he made the decision.
You bet he is.
Shawn Thornton has decided to appeal the League's decision to suspend him for 15 games, and on his behalf the NHLPA has notified the NHL.— NHLPA (@NHLPA) December 16, 2013
This is the second suspension this season that we have seen go to the appeals process, the first was the suspension given to Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta. The way it works is that the appeal process will begin with a review from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman that will include a written ruling. It was at this point that Kaleta's appeal process ended and he accepted the decision.
New to the appeals process, though, is that Bettman's decision can now be appealed to an independent arbitrator. There is a growing sense that this will be the first case to test the new process out given that Thronton received such a weighty punishment for what was his first career offense.
Lawyer Eric Macramalla had an interesting breakdown of the case for TSN, explaining why it's very likely this suspension could hold up but even knowing that, it's worthwhile for the NHLPA to appeal this to Bettman and beyond. No matter the result, it's important to establish precendence for future cases. But it's likely Thornton's representation will indeed feel it has a claim to reduce the suspension. Time will tell on that regard.