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Bruins forward Shawn Thornton will be appealing his 15-game suspension handed down by the National Hockey League. The NHL suspended Thornton for his attack on Penguins defenceman Brooks Orpik. After the whistle, Thornton skated the length of the ice, pulled Orpik to the ice from behind and punched him in the face several times. Orpik suffered a concussion and was taken to hospital. The Appeal Process As a first step, Thornton will appeal the suspension to Commissioner Gary Bettman. He hears all appeals on league discipline. Since the suspension exceeds five games, Bettman is required to have an in-person hearing for Thornton. Since Thornton was at the NHL office last week for his disciplinary hearing, he should know his way around by now. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provides that "the Commissioner shall endeavor to hear all appeals on an expedited basis and will determine whether the decision" is supported by clear and convincing evidence. So Bettman will get this done quickly and will assess whether the suspension makes sense based on the circumstances. Thornton should expect to fail on appeal to Bettman. The suspension was handed down by the Director of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan. However, given the complex legal implications of this case, particularly in light of the concussion lawsuits, the suspension was very likely a group effort. So the suspension wasnt a Shanahan decision as much as it was a league decision issued through Shanahan. As a result, its unlikely Bettman will reduce the suspension. Frankly, reductions by Bettman are unlikely in most circumstances. He runs the league so he wont contradict himself. Indeed, the NHLPA has probably told Thornton the prospects of success are bleak. And this brings us to the next stage in the appeal process. Appeal Number 2 It doesnt end with Bettman. Since the suspension exceeds five games, the CBA gives Thornton the right to appeal Bettmans decision to an independent arbitrator. This wasnt around in the old CBA and is brand new, thanks to the NHLPAs negotiations during the lockout. Thornton will have seven days to appeal Bettmans decision to the arbitrator (who is described as a "Neutral Discipline Arbitrator" in the CBA). There will once again be an in-person hearing, and while the CBA doesnt say when it must occur, the arbitrator needs to hear it on an "expedited basis". So again, relatively quickly. The arbitrator will consider the length of the suspension and whether its appropriate. That determination will be made by examining things like the incident, the leagues past practice, the evidence and the surrounding circumstances. The arbitrator has broad powers. The CBA gives the arbitrator "full remedial authority", which means he can reduce the suspension, leave it as is, or even increase it. Its unlikely, though, the suspension would ever be increased. If Thornton is unhappy with the decision of the arbitrator, his only recourse would be to challenge the ruling in court. However, a judge will not interfere with the arbitrators decision unless its completely outrageous. Effectively, then, you should consider the arbitrators decision final. To be clear, Thornton doesnt have to appeal Bettmans ruling to the arbitrator. If he wants, after the Commissioner rules on his case, he can decide to stop the appeal process and serve out what is left of his suspension. As I wrote here, Thorntons prospects of success on appeal are low, given the NHLs past practice when it comes to these types of incidents. As well, the NHL may be able to make a compelling case that this type of suspension represents an important deterrent for on-ice behaviour that puts players at risk for concussions and the irreversible brain damage that may flow from head shots. However, merits aside, I also noted that we could still see an appeal. Since independent arbitrators are new, the NHLPA may want to start building precedents to help guide them in future cases. As well, the NHLPA needs to show that it wont roll over when it comes to defending its players and that it is prepared to dig in and fight. So while this case does not present a high likelihood of success for Thornton, the NHLPA sees value in taking a stand. And as it should. As for Brooks Orpik, he may not be too happy with the NHLPA defending his attacker. Still, the NHLPA may draw the fine distinction that the appeal is not adverse to Orpik, but rather adverse to the NHL and its decision. So the Union isnt technically acting against one of its own, but instead acting on behalf of one of its own. That is a distinction that may not sit well with Orpik. However, thats the nature of the NHLPA beast. Mo Williams Jersey . 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"Im excited just for a new start, just to see where things are going, to bring some kind of tradition back to the team and guys being excited about something new," the defensive back said during a conference call Monday after agreeing to stay with the Bombers rather than go to free agency next month.Matt Cooke still says he is a changed man. Less than a day after the NHL handed the Minnesota Wild forward a seven-game suspension for his knee-on-knee collision with Colorado Avalanche defenceman Tyson Barrie, Cooke reiterated to the media Thursday that he had no intention of hurting his opponent. "It was not my intent to collide knee-to-knee. Meant to finish my check," he said. The suspension has thrust Cooke back into a negative spotlight. From 2004 to 2011, he was suspended five times for a total of 27 games prior to his most recent conviction. Nonetheless, Cooke is adamant that his questionable decisions are a thing of the past. 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