NHL Punishments Making Difference, GMs Say

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Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli thinks the NHL's supplemental discipline process is having the desired impact of modifying players' on-ice behavior.

"Absolutely," Chiarelli said Tuesday after hearing a league report on supplemental discipline at the board of governors meeting. "Just in Shawn Thornton's case, he will be suspended. That is meaningful compensation to him, and he's contrite. I know he is probably going to think about how he handles this stuff."

Thornton, Boston's tough guy, faces a hearing Friday and a possible lengthy suspension for his attack Saturday on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Orpik has a concussion.

Chiarelli said Bruins forward Brad Marchand had been down the supplemental discipline road and had changed the way he played as a result.

"He's struggled a bit this year," Chiarelli said. "I think that's part of it, changing it that way. We saw some videos in (the meeting where) guys pulled up on hits and still managed to knock the guy off the puck. So that's harder to see. You have to look at a game closely to see that. But I've seen it. I watch our guy (Zdeno) Chara hit guys, and he's a very good hitter and he keeps his elbows in. I know he's changed it a little bit. People are reacting."

Pittsburgh's James Neal received a five-game suspension Monday for kneeing fallen Marchand in the head in the same game as the Thornton incident. The Toronto Maple Leafs' Dion Phaneuf on Tuesday received a two-game suspension for boarding.

Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said the NHL's Brendan Shanahan had set new standards with his approach to supplemental discipline. "He is doing a fabulous job for the league," Poile said. "And more important, he's doing a fabulous job for the players."

Poile said the events in the Pittsburgh-Boston game were a rarity.

"The type of thing that Neal did, I can't even remember seeing a thing like for (a long time)," he said. "And Shawn Thornton, he seems to be a stand-up guy who plays his role really well. He's already said he made a mistake, and he's going to pay for that. I don't think that stuff will happen very much."

In other news:

Commissioner Gary Bettman said he was willing to listen to any city interested in acquiring an expansion franchise but the league had not committed to expansion and had no timetable in mind.

Bettman said reports the NHL would schedule a Heritage Classic in Winnipeg were premature. He said the league was in talks with Winnipeg officials but nothing had been finalized.

He updated the governors on the lawsuit by former players charging the league with not providing enough information about concussions.

"I don't want to get too detailed," Bettman said. "(But) start with the fact that the group believes the lawsuit is without merit and that we should vigorously and aggressively defend it."



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