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.