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Shawn Thornton says he won’t appeal 15-game suspension to neutral arbitrator

Pittsburgh Penguins' Tanner Glass prepares to check Boston Bruins' Shawn Thornton into the boards

Gene J. Puskar/The Associated Press

Shawn Thornton has decided not to appeal his 15 game suspension to an independent arbitrator.

The Boston Bruins forward announced his decision following practice on Tuesday. As a result, he won't be able to play until January 11th when the Bruins face the San Jose Sharks.

Thornton said it was not an easy decision to make, adding he's not happy with the amount of games but respects the decision.

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"I'd rather just move on mentally and just focus on getting ready for the 11th instead of focusing on getting ready for another hearing," he was quoted as saying.

Thornton was originally suspended after receiving a match penalty for attacking Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik during a game back on December 7th. Orpik suffered a concussion and had to be taken off on a stretcher after Thornton slew-footed him and then punched him twice in the head as he lay on the ice.

Thornton elected to appeal the suspension to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, with the NHLPA arguing on his behalf that the punishment was too severe for a player who was a first time offender and had played more than 500 games without ever being disciplined. While they agreed Thornton's actions were "harmful" and "wrong" and resulted in "significant" injury, they argued a suspension of between 10 – 12 games was more appropriate.

Bettman disagreed, saying there was "clear and convincing evidence" to support the original 15-game suspension.

Prior to Thornton, Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta was the only player to appeal his suspension to the NHL Commissioner. Bettman also upheld that 10-game suspension.

No player has gone to the neutral arbitrator, which is an option available to players under the current collective bargaining agreement.

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