BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 23: Shawn Thornton #22 of the Boston Bruins warms up to play the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on October 23, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.

NHLPA confirms Thornton will appeal suspension


Shawn Thornton has decided to appeal his 15-game NHL suspension for knocking down and repeatedly punching Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, according to the NHLPA.

As we have previously pointed out, Thornton exercising this option doesn’t mean he’s denying wrongdoing. Instead, this appeal is a way for him to try and reduce the length of his suspension.

His actions probably also have the support of the Boston Bruins, given that team president Cam Neely said the 15-game punishment was “higher than I expected and higher than I think is warranted.”

Thornton’s appeal will go to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. If Bettman decides to against reducing his suspension to five or fewer games, then the Boston Bruins forward will have the option to become the first NHL player since the current CBA was put into effect to further appeal his ruling to a neutral discipline arbitrator.

Meanwhile, Thornton will continue to sit out. He has already served four games of his suspension and will miss his fifth straight contest tonight.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.