Last month, Merlot Man and pugilist extraordinaire Shawn Thornton celebrated his thirty sixth birthday. While thirty six is by no means a mandatory retirement age for a player, it will affect a man who possesses Thornton’s particular skill set. Currently, Thornton is the third oldest player on the team. (Only Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, and recent acquisition Jarome Iginla will be older.) Would sixteen seasons as a grinder (and as a winger for the best fourth line in the NHL) take a toll on such a man?
Would Shawn Thornton start thinking about retiring now? Thornton? Retire? Not [fill in the more vehement profanity here] likely. On Monday afternoon, Shawn Thornton was hosting the fourth annual Putts and Punches for Parkinsons golf tournament (He was supported by Tuukka Rask and fellow Merlot Man Daniel Paille.). He was asked about his thoughts on hanging up the spoked B, and #22 was as direct as he usually is.
“I’m going to play until they rip the skates off of me, and tell me that I can’t anymore.” offered the Bruins bruiser. “I’m aware of how old I am, but I definitely don’t feel it. I’ve been fairly consistent over the last few years, I think. People probably have varying opinions about that, but I’ll continue to do everything I can do to show up in good shape. I just want to show up and contribute in a positive way. I hate losing more than anyone. Last year stung and that will stick with me for sure. I want to have a big year personally, but I like the moves we’ve made, and we’re built to be a good team and go a long way. I’d like to be a part of that.”
He certainly has been a part of the Bruins success these last few seasons. He was in the top twenty for fighting majors these last five seasons (and tied for number one in 2012). Sure, he can fight. Thornton has been known to fight for his team over slights ignored by the refs. (The Matt Cooke fight stands out as the best example.) (EDITOR’s NOTE: For those among you who believe Cooke isn’t a malignant tumor on the face of hockey… watch.) Thornton is one of the players that has committed himself to this community. He lives here year round, and like Andrew Ference, he’ll probably stay in the Boston area after his retirement.
I think all of us in Bruins Nation have come to love Merlot. No matter what age it is, the vintage is always excellent.