Shawn Thornton not taking appeal to independent arbitrator
|12.31.13 at 12:12 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Shawn Thornton will not appeal his 15-game suspension to a neutral arbitrator.
Thornton’s suspension for attacking Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7 was upheld by commissioner Gary Bettman last week, with Thornton having seven days to take the appeal to an independent arbitrator. Thornton has served 10 of his 15 games thus far and will be eligible to return to the lineup Jan. 11 in San Jose.
“I’m still not happy with the amount of games I got,” Thornton said. “I know I’m not a victim, but I’m not happy with the amount of games I got. But I respect the decision and I’d rather just move on mentally and focus on getting ready for the 11th instead of focusing on getting ready for another hearing.”
With Thornton choosing not to take the process further, there has still been no instances of players appealing suspensions to neutral arbitrators, which is allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement. Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta appealed his 10-game suspension to Bettman in October but also declined to advance the process after his ban was upheld. The decision to not go further was made at the last minute by Thornton, who spent much of Monday night and Tuesday morning weighing his options.
“I’d rather not be a distraction around here. I’d rather focus on getting ready for January 11, which is 12 days out now. I’m not going to lie to you, it wasn’t an easy decision,” Thornton said. “I’ve been thinking about it for the last 36 hours, not much sleep, but I feel for the team it’s probably the right thing to do I guess at this point, not going through the whole process again for a third time.”
Numerous players throughout the league reached out to Thornton during his suspension to offer their support. Among them was Sharks forward Raffi Torres, who has been suspended four times by the league and was banned for a total of 21 games for a postseason hit on Marian Hossa in the 2012 playoffs.
Yet perhaps the most encouraging words Thornton got were from Orpik himself, as the two have been friends and offseason workout partners over the years. Upon returning to practice, Orpik defended Thornton to reporters, saying, “I think he knew he made a mistake and regretted it right away.”
“Well we’ve known each other for a long time,” Thornton said. “I said right after the fact that the outcome was not what was intended and I felt awful about it. That hasn’t changed, and we’ve talked. We talked that night. We were still friends after the fact that night. Talking [to him], that helped me through this a little bit, for sure.”
For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.