/Dec 5, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Boston Bruins right wing Shawn Thornton (22) and Montreal Canadiens right wing Brandon Prust (8) fight during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

NHLPA Owes Its Members More


Boston Bruin forward Shawn Thornton is currently awaiting the decision of National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman. Thornton is appealing the fifteen game suspension that was handed down by Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Player Safety. If Bettman decides to uphold a suspension of six or more games, Thornton would then be able to take his appeal further. A new stipulation added to the CBA allows for a player to appeal to a neutral arbitrator whose decision would then become final.

Should the NHLPA be supporting the appeal of this suspension? This was a vicious act of violence by one member of a union on another member. I understand that unions have to protect their own, but I think that allowing Thornton to appeal his suspension is one where the NHLPA should have told him to stand down.

Thornton’s actions were completely out of line. He hunted another player down, tripped him from behind and punched him multiple times in the face knocking him unconscious. In my eyes, the fifteen games doesn’t fit this crime. By allowing Thornton to appeal, it looks to me like the NHLPA are forgetting about the player that was injured, who is also a member of the union. By supporting Thornton to appeal his suspension, it is almost as if the NHLPA is condoning his actions on the ice. Thorton and the NHLPA should have just accepted the suspension and have been thankful it was not for a longer period of time.

The NHLPA needs to take a look at where the game is at right now. There have been a total of twenty-nine suspensions handed out by the Department of Player safety in just three months of action. This is a truly alarming number. The punishments for the incidents just do not seem to be altering the actions of some of the members of the NHLPA. The Shawn Thornton act should have been used as an example of what needs to be eliminated from the game. Players need to be reminded that such actions should not be allowed nor should they be accepted by any of its members. There is a difference between a hard hockey hit that goes bad and an act of senseless violence.

The NHLPA needs to figure out a way to make this game safer for all of its members. It is getting to a point that the suspension news is becoming all to commonplace and that should not be accepted by the members of the union. How severely injured does a player need to be before enough is enough? Hopefully, for the sake of the members of the union, and for all that love this game, we will never get to that point.

Hockey is an emotional and fast paced game.  There will be times when appeals are necessary for actions by members of the NHLPA that were accidental, but dangerous none the less.  Those players actually show remorse for their actions and get the fact that they were in the wrong.  Shawn Thorton doesn’t deserve to appeal his suspension because his actions, while may not have been premeditated – were not in the midst of a hockey play, and he had plenty of time to think about what he was doing.

What do you think? Does the NHLPA have a bigger responsibility to eliminate these hits that are dirtying the game? Let us know.

 

Tags: Brendan Shanahan Brooks Orpik CBA Garry Bettman NHLPA Shawn Thornton

  • Peter Basora

    I think that, like football, players know that by playing they run the risk of injury. They also know what the rules are. To me fines and suspensions should be the only punishments for illegal hits. The union does not have a responsibility to protect the players from themselves, the players do. Also, hockey has always been dirty. You can fight dirty players when they make dirty plays immediately, something Orpik should have let Thornton do after his cheap shot on Eriksson. And Thornton should be allowed to appeal not only because it’s in the CBA, but also because Neal only got five for the more dangerous knee to Marchand’s head in the very same game.

    • Timothy Redinger

      The inherent danger argument creeps into play. Sure playing hockey in inherently dangerous. Does that make it ok to senseless punch someone when they are laying on the ice? What recourse would Orpik have if he had been hurt worse? Did you know that driving a car was inherently dangerous? But you can sue someone for “dirty” driving while under the influence.

      • Peter Basora

        You misunderstand my comment. Hockey is dangerous therefore one cannot expect the players’s union to protect players from injury. Only the actions of the players on the ice will make playing more safe. I am in no way making excuses for Shawn Thornton’s behavior. What would Jason Bernas have the union do? Decline to support Thornton in his appeals process that the union itself won for the players? What can the union be trusted to do for the players if not support them against the actions of the NHL? And, again, the appeal should be heard because the punishments for these offenses don’t add up.

        • Timothy Redinger

          Jason can speak for himself, but your right, the union itself cannot make the game on the ice safer for the players – but in instance where a player violates not only the rules of the game but with no regard for the safety of another union member – Thorton’s union rep should have strongly advised him not to appeal the suspension. It just seems like the only time this union wants to stand as one is when the cba is up and they have dollars to gain. Which brings me back to my original point, this type of behavior will continue to plague the game of hockey in North America until the NHL and NHLPA take a stand and eliminate it from the game by suspensions being severe and really hurting a guy in the paycheck.

  • Thomas Eric

    Thorton does not deserve 15 games 5 games max johnnscott and kaleta and cook all got less games and they have history after history of violent offensives Shawn has no history at all first timer should not get 15 games

    • Timothy Redinger

      So if Thorton had done something worse, say intentionally stepped on the back of a guys leg in a scrum, or swung his stick at somebody’s head – he should only get five games because he has no history of suspensions? What Thorton did was not a hockey play, or anything that amounted as a dirty hockey play, it was an aggressive assault on a defenseless person. 15 games was light IMO. You know what John Scott has that Shawn Thorton doesn’t – the ability to stop punching a guy when he hits the ice and the fight is over.

      • Thomas Eric

        Still 15 is too high

        • Timothy Redinger

          Why? Because your a Boston fan? Or just a Thorton fan? Need him on your fantasy hockey team? Don’t get me wrong, I love the violent nature of this sport. I love when two guys have a legitimate fight and do the dance . Great open ice hits. Its part of the game and I cringe when I hear people talk about talking it out of the sport. If the NHL continues to hand out 2-5 game suspensions, the dirty crap that we do want out of the sport will continue. When your making a million or more a year, 2-5 games is nothing but a break.

          • Thomas Eric

            I’m actually a die hard sabres fan I just think the nhl is starting to get trigger happy yes I want this dangerous crap out of the game but not at the cost of wuss- I-flying the sport I see guys getting fined or suspended for hits that are just part of the game guys are battling in the corner guy digs the puck out starts to skate defender loads up to check him in the process of the check before he completed the contact the offensive player loses balance starts to fall making the incoming collision look worse then it really was guys flip fines and suspensions are being handed down for things that just happen 9 out of 10 guys aren’t trying to viciously kill people on the ice….

          • Thomas Eric

            And Tim I’m a big fan of your articles so I’m not trying to start or pick a fight with you I’m just telling you my view on how I see the league acting and wat I am afraid it’s going to turn in to

          • Timothy Redinger

            Thanks for the read and the stick tap. I enjoy writing so its good to hear someone out there actually reads the stuff. I wasn’t trying to pick a fight either, just get really to the point of why you felt it not important to give Thorton 15 (or more) deserved games. You make another valid point which is another extension of this argument – the league lacks any consistency in calling penalties and handing out suspensions – so we the fans are left clueless to what the policy is and what you have to do to miss serious time.

          • Thomas Eric

            Yea it’s all over the map and a few times hits look worse cause a 6’4 guy hits a 5’9 guy so it looks woes then guys if the same size hitting each other

  • Allan

    This article is misleading. The article is telling readers that the NHLPA made the decision to file the appeal, and the NHLPA is not acting for its other members. This is totally not the case. The decision to appeal is entirely up to Shawn Thornton. Although, it is certain that he would have consulted with the Boston Bruins, NHLPA and attorneys before deciding to appeal. The NHL and NHLPA both know that they are representing both players in this case.