Boston Bruins Assessments: Shawn Thornton


Mar 6, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins right wing

Shawn Thornton

(22) skates during the first period against the Washington Capitals at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Shawn Thornton has spent the last few years as part of the Merlot Line for the Boston Bruins. He’s brought a certain directness to his job, and has usually led his team in penalty minutes because of it. He’s one of those players that provides energy and grit to the Bruins and he excels in that position.

This has not been the best year for the Bruins enforcer. The attack on Brooks Orpik last December 7th will be something that will follow him around, even after he leaves the NHL. That fifteen game suspension took him out of action for the rest of the month of December. His squirting of P.K. Subban (while further endearing him to Bruins fans) probably didn’t do his future in Boston any favors. Thornton ended up playing sixty four games for the Black and Gold in the regular season. He finished with eight points(five goals), a plus/minus of +3, and seventy four minutes in penalties.

The Bruins were knocked out of the playoffs by the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens brought a fast offense to the second round, and the big, bad Bruins just couldn’t seem to catch up. A lot of players did not have their best postseason series, and Thornton was one of them. He had a single assist in the series, and was a -2 on the plus/minus.

The Bruins have some tough number crunching to do in the offseason. They have made it a focus to resign Jarome Iginla. Since they also have to make an attempt to sign Reilly Smith and Torey Krug to their roster, there will be an awful lot of shuffling at the bottom half of the Bruins roster. With so many sports pundits acknowledging the likely loss of Adam McQuaid and/or Johnny Boychuk, Thornton’s career in Boston appears to be at an end.

Shawn Thornton will be a free agent as of July 1st. Presently, neither him or his agent have been approached by the Bruins organization on the possibility of a one year contract. (That is a shame though. Thornton would likely take a decent hometown discount to stay another season in Boston.)Professionally, the loss of Thornton makes sense. The Providence Bruins have several young defenseman who could fit the bill in Boston. They could offer youth, speed, and a more offensive edge for the Bruins.

On a personal level,  I think it’s a mistake. While Thornton is one of those players that will never be a Patrice Bergeron, he found a home in Boston. He’s one of those NHL players, like Lyndon Byers who fell in love with a NHL city, and stayed after his career was over.