The NHL  announced Tuesday that commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the 1 5-game suspension  given to Bruins forward Shawn Thornton  for attacking Penguins  defenseman Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7.
Thornton, who has missed eight games since the incident, appealed the original decision by NHL  senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan that was announced on Dec. 14. He met with the commissioner in New York on Friday, along with his agent, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and three representatives from the NHL  Players Association.
The NHLPA argued for a suspension in the range of 10-12 games, noting that Thornton had never previously been suspended and the punishment was not consistent with previous penalties for similar actions.
Wrote Bettman in Tuesday’s announcement : “I have no trouble concluding that a very lengthy suspension is warranted and that the decision to impose a 15-game suspension is supported by clear and convincing evidence. In fact, in light of all the circumstances relating to the underlying conduct, it is certainly possible to argue for a more severe punishment, but I am comfortable relying on Mr. Shanahan’s judgment.”
Added Bettman: “The objective evidence makes it clear to me that Mr. Thornton’s conduct was premeditated and an act of retaliation, and I do not believe that any person with experience in the game could conclude otherwise.”
Thornton, who can appeal the decision to a neutral arbitrator as per the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, will forfeit $85,615 in salary. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.