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.