It’s official everyone. Shawn Thornton has chosen to begin the appeal process to fight the fifteen game suspension handed down by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
According to the CBA (those of you who covered last season’s lockout may have large parts of it committed to memory by now) Thornton will have an appeal hearing with commissioner Gary Bettman.(That date has yet to be determined.) Once Gary Bettman issues his ruling, two things could happen. In the unlikely event that Bettman reduces it to five games or less, the matter is resolved right there and then. If the Bettman decides that the suspension needs to remain at six or more games, Thornton can then appeal to an independent arbitrator.
You know the Pittsburgh Penguin fan base has totally lost it right now. Not only was Thornton not branded with a twenty game or more suspension, he’s going to appeal the fifteen game judgment. To this I answer: It’s in the collective bargaining agreement. Every Penguin player that has been suspended this season (and that number is higher than the Bruins folks) has had the option of taking it to Bettman and then an independent arbitrator. It’s his right to do so.
Makes sense in a way. James Neal got five games for crossing the ice and intentionally braining Brad Marchand. (Now if Marchy can just focus more on the scoring and less on the asinine chirping we’d be a happier fan base.) John Scott got seven game for crossing a greater distance of ice to concuss Loui Eriksson. (We’ll leave the Orpik hit on Eriksson out on the account it was a ‘legal’ hit.) A lot of sportscasters that weren’t drunk or off their medications, or wrote for a Pittsburgh publication believed (myself as well) that ten games was appropriate.
A ten game suspension works for everyone. Shanahan gets credit for his first big suspension. Thornton pays a hefty fine and will likely never pull that stunt again. Nick Johnson and Ryan Spooner (two Providence Bruins who earned a shot at the big B) will get some playing time. Most of the level headed Penguins fans will have their blood, and the players union doesn’t have to start fighting with the league this early. Then the irate members of Pens Nation can shut up and focus on their next player facing a lengthy suspension. (in this case Deryk Engelland)