Could Shawn Thornton be the first player to appeal to an independent arbitrator?

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Shawn Thornton’s agent isn’t sure if the Boston Bruins forward will appeal his 15-game suspension to begin with, but if he does, things could get awfully interesting.

So far, CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty reports that Thornton and the Bruins are assessing what kind of options they have. It’s no shock that the quotes seem pretty matter-of-fact, then.

“At this time, we will decline comment until process is complete and Shawn has exhausted all rights available to him,” Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said.

“I will be consulting with the [Bruins], my representation and the NHLPA about next steps,” Thornton said. “Until then I’ll have no further comment.”

Let’s move on from boring lawyer talk to more interesting lawyer talk: Haggerty believes that Thornton, 36, could be the first player to appeal his suspension all the way to an independent arbitrator. The appeal would first go through NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, so that process could take quite a while.

Still, that’s an interesting situation to watch. As you may remember, Patrick Kaleta nearly went that far regarding his 10-game suspension (reportedly causing a little bit of division within the NHLPA in the process) before eventually accepting his punishment.

Keep in mind that this is merely Haggerty’s opinion, as Thornton might not appeal it at all.

PHT will share the Pittsburgh Penguins’ reactions in a post later on tonight.