The verdict is in from commissioner Gary Bettman on Shawn Thornton's appeal of his 15-game suspension, the punishment has been upheld by the man in charge.
The Boston Bruins forward was suspended for 15 games after he came up from behind Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, wrestled him to the ground and then delivered two punches to Orpik as he lay on the ice. Orpik has been out of the lineup since after suffering a concussion on the play while Thornton was handed the heavy suspension a couple of days later.
This was the first suspension of Thornton's career, making a few think the 15-game sentence was too harsh. Certainly that was part of the thinking on Thornton's side of things but Bettman didn't agree.
Since his appeal was denied by Bettman, Thornton now has the opportunity to appeal his decision to an independent arbitrator. If he elects to do so, it will mark the first time that an appeal has gone that far since the independent arbitrator was introduced in the latest CBA. It is the second time this season, though, that Bettman has issued a judgment on an appeal and like he did with Patrick Kaleta, Bettman took Thornton to task in parts.
Here are a few sections of note in Bettman's opinion:
-- He casually skated up behind Mr. Orpik and took him down under circumstances in which the latter "never had a chance" to defend himself. Interestingly (and disturbingly), Mr. Thornton testified at the hearing that he knew exactly what he was doing and that he was in complete control of his emotions.
-- First, the NHLPA is clearly correct that Mr. Thornton's record of no prior Supplementary Discipline is an important consideration and is not an aggravating factor in this case. Mr. Thornton has an excellent record for clean play and he is well-respected, as both Messrs. Chiarelli and Thun explained. But that is exactly why the suspension is only fifteen (15) games.
-- I have no doubt that a fifteen (15) game suspension fairly calibrates the penalty to the severity of the infraction in light of the factors that apply under Section 18.2 and the standards that apply in today's game. Simply put, this was a bad act with a bad result, and neither will be tolerated in our game.