Shawn Thornton will continue to skate and function as a member of the Boston Bruins organization over the next month while he serves out a 15-game suspension handed down from the NHL for his attack on Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik.
But the Bruins enforcer will also be building up a case for an appeal, which starts on Monday with a meeting between his lawyers and the NHLPA.
This is consistent with Thornton’s thoughts from his weekend statement, which will be his only public comments on the suspension matter for the present time.
“I will be consulting with the Bruins, my representation and the NHLPA about next steps, and will be in a position to address the matter publicly after speaking with those parties,” Thornton said in a prepared statement from Saturday afternoon. “Until then I will have no further comment.”
Thornton has until 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to decide whether to submit a written appeal of the suspension, as permitted by the CBA to be within 48 hours of the judgment handed down from the Department of Player Safety.
Buffalo Sabres agitator Patrick Kaleta went through the same process over a 10-game suspension earlier this season, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the ban.
NHL players have a second option for an appeal with a neutral arbiter following the appeal to the commissioner’s office, but no player has tested that part of the process out in the new CBA.
One would expect that Thornton will try to plea down the harsh 15-game sentence since he is a first-time offender who has been known as an honest player throughout his 11-year career. The league will likely counter by pointing out the violent nature -- and end result -- of the exchange between Thornton and Orpik.
As is currently stands, Thornton's suspension will keep him out of game action until Jan. 11 against the San Jose Sharks.