Shawn Thornton suspension: NHL upholds 15-game ruling

Bruce Bennett

The NHL has upheld Thornton's 15-game suspension for attacking Brooks Orpik. The NHLPA and Thornton have until Dec. 31 to request a hearing with an independent arbitrator.

Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the 15-game suspension of Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton for attacking Brooks Orpik, the league announced on Tuesday afternoon.

In addition to announcing the upheld ruling, the NHL released commissioner Bettman's complete written explanation detailing the entirety of the appeal hearing. The basis of the appeal was rooted in the premise of premeditation and the NHL Players' Association case was built around Thornton having a flawless discipline record and other players being given shorter suspensions for similar conduct. The NHLPA argued that the Department of Player Safety erred in concluding Thornton's actions as premeditated and not being part of a hockey play.

Commissioner Bettman disagreed, ruling that Thornton's actions constituted outside the normal play of the game and were premeditated. Bettman stated that Thornton had opportunities to engage with other players, but specifically identified Orpik and went out of his way to engage him. This is a clear indication of premeditation to the commissioner.

Bettman also noted other suspensions over the course of NHL history, including Dale Hunter's 21-game suspension in 1993, Matt Johnson's 12-game suspension in 1998 and Todd Bertuzzi's 18-month suspension for attacking Steve Moore in 2004. Bettman acknowledged that these plays all shared the similarity of attacking an unsuspecting and defenseless player.

However, the commissioner acknowledged Thornton's flawless discipline record and stated that this incident was out of character for the player.

Here's the commissioner's complete ruling:

Now that Bettman has submitted his ruling, Thornton and the NHLPA will have until Dec. 31 to determine whether they will pursue a hearing with an independent arbitrator. This is a new wrinkle in the collective bargaining agreement and reports have indicated that the NHLPA has been interested in testing out this new process. Considering Thornton's otherwise perfect discipline record, it might be the ideal opportunity to do so. If that's the case, it will be the first instance in league history.

Bettman's ruling indicates that Thornton and the NHLPA hoped to have the suspension lessened to the 10-12 game range.

More from SB Nation NHL:

The Rink of Dreams: One Mich. family created an outdoor hockey paradise

#Buttgoal| Did the officials get the call right?

Shallow Pal: How smaller nets lead to more goals

Avoiding a Shanaban: Both sides of the Tom Wilson hit

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.