Shawn Thornton will appeal his 15-game suspension, handed down on Saturday by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Shortly after the news was confirmed to the Globe, the NHLPA tweeted, “Shawn Thornton has decided to appeal the League’s decision to suspend him for 15 games, and on his behalf the NHLPA has notified the NHL.”
Thornton had until 4 p.m. today to decide whether he will appeal the suspension. It will go first to commissioner Gary Bettman, who earlier this year upheld Patrick Kaleta’s 10-game suspension.
If Bettman does so again, Thornton will have the option to appeal the case to a neutral arbitrator, per the new CBA. No player has yet attempted that course of action, as Kaleta dropped his case after the Bettman decision.
The sides have not scheduled the appeal to Bettman, which is likely to occur at the NHL’s New York offices. Thornton was already in the offices on Friday for his in-person hearing with Brendan Shanahan.
The suspension followed a Dec. 7 game when Thornton pulled the Penguins’ Brooks Orpik to the ice and punched him several times in the head. Orpik left the game on a stretcher.
Thornton received a match penalty and was ejected, and was immediately suspended.
The incident followed two other rough moments in the game. Orpik knocked the Bruins’ Loui Eriksson out of the game with a big hit – Eriksson suffered a concussion – and the Penguins’ James Neal struck Boston’s Brad Marchand with his knee as he skated by Marchand, who had fallen to the ice at the time.
Thornton skated at practice this morning at Ristuccia Arena, but did not speak to the media.