Boston Bruins: Could Saturday be Shawn Thornton’s Final Game in Boston?


(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

He’s 38 years old and in the second year of a two-year deal. He is a healthy scratch more often than not. When he does play, his time-on-ice stats for a whole game don’t even come close to what others log in a period. Could Saturday’s game at TD Garden between the Florida Panther and the Boston Bruins be the last time Shawn Thornton plays in Boston?

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If he does play, it will be game number 620 in a career that started in Chicago in 2002 and has included two Stanley Cup wins along the way. Obviously, one of those Cup wins came in Boston five years ago.  The other was in Anaheim when the Ducks won it all in 2007.  Thornton was an integral part of the Cup run the Bruins had in 2010-11, playing in 79 games that year, and setting career highs in goals and assists, with 10 of each. He also established a career best plus/minus of 8, and shots on goal with 151.

It wasn’t what he did with stats, though, that made #22 so important. It was his mere presence on the bench, and the role he filled so well that was sometimes just as important as a stat. Perhaps that role was never filled better than in March of 2010. Earlier that month, on March 7th, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke delivered a blind side, cheap shot elbow to the head of Bruins center Marc Savard.  For that hit, Cooke didn’t even receive a suspension. Savard would play his last NHL game less than a year later.

No one on the Bruins went after Cooke that night following the hit, but eleven days later when the teams met again, Shawn Thornton endeared himself forever in the hearts of Bruins fans everywhere when he squared off with the dastardly Cooke and beat him like a rented mule. Cooke was clearly at a disadvantage, because this time his opponent saw him coming.

Thornton has squared off with legitimate tough guys and fellow heavyweights over the years. According to, Thornton has dropped the gloves 133 times, and of those 102 were done while donning a Bruins sweater. He fought Krys Barch and Eric Boulton eight times each! He went four times each with Chris Neil, Colton Orr, Jay Rosehill, Mike Rupp and Jody Shelley.

There was nobody in the league he feared. In 2010, he took on John Scott, who is five years younger, half a foot taller, and outweighed him by more than 50 pounds.  It wasn’t one of Thornton’s better scraps, and he ended up with a concussion, but the important thing was that he had no problems dropping the gloves with someone much bigger than him.

With fighting happening less and less these days, players such as Thornton are becoming the exception, whereas they were once the rule. Even at 38, Thornton still plays the role well, taking on all comers. Just ask 27 year old, 6’4″, 225 pound Patrick Maroon, who Thornton prevailed over last month.

Thornton’s role on the ice was just as important as it was off the ice.  He brought a winner’s mentality into the dressing room when he came to Boston, as well as the experience and knowledge of a veteran. He was just as valuable in the community, giving his time to worthy causes. This isn’t the last meeting between the Panthers and the Bruins, as they’ll meet again towards the end of the season. With both teams nears the bottom of the pack, Florida management may opt for a younger faster forward on yah fourth line Whether or not tomorrow may be his last game on Boston ice, Shawn Thornton exemplified all that was right with being a Bruin, and being an honest hockey player.