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BOSTON—If Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton was hoping for an early Christmas gift in regards to winning the appeal of his 15-game suspension, what he got instead was a lump of coal. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Thornton’s 15-game suspension, the league announced on Tuesday.
Thornton now has two options: He can either serve the rest of the suspension, or bring the case to a neutral arbitrator. Regardless of what decision he makes, he has seven days to do so. Bettman wrote the following 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.”
He was suspended on December 14, a week after he skated behind Brooks Orpik in a scrum, took the gritty defenseman down to the ice, and punched him several times leaving him unconscious. Orpik had to be removed from the ice on a stretcher and was diagnosed with a concussion.
Thornton decided to appeal the suspension and had an in-person hearing with Bettman last Friday. He has already sat out eight games and is eligible to return January 11 when the Bruins take on theSan Jose Sharks. The $84,000 taken off his salary as a result of the suspension will be donated to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The Bruins next game is in the friendly confines of the TD Garden against the Ottawa Senators at 7 PM on Friday, December 27.