This was generally a good season for Boston Bruins pugilist Shawn Thornton. Not only did he notch personal bests in terms of games played (81) and penalty minutes (154), he was given a penalty shot in January and proceeded to score, proving his philosophy of “Hey, we can play.”
By the way, that shot right there is up for TSN’s Play of the Year and it’s losing quite badly to something not as exciting. Go vote for it now!
But while he tallied up five goals and eight assists, he also dropped the gloves 20 times this season–not his personal record, but very close to it.
NESN has put up a video of all 20 tussles here. I’d like to pick eight of my favorites and highlight them especially. Many of these are attempts for Thornton to ignite his team–like if they’re losing or tied or otherwise lagging–so I’ll also add the final scores of those games to see if he sparked an effective fire.
In one of the bright spots of an otherwise glum October, Thornton gets his first fight of the season. There’s an explosion of doffed equipment right off the faceoff, he manages to get Orr’s helmet off and then turns him into a Headless Horseman before the fight ends.
Andy Brickley calmly predicts the start of the fight, which turns into a wild flurry of fists up against the glass before the linesmen come in to break up these two big-time enforcers. Check out the women laughing at the spectacle in front of them around 36 seconds into the video.
Coming after Barch delivers a big hit to Daniel Paille that has him struggling to get up, Thornton darts over to show that that’s not okay. These guys have a history, too. Check out how Barch rips Thornton’s sweater before he’s taken down to the ice. PS: They squared off again later in December in another sweater-ripping fight that did not last as long.
Thornton gets his former teammate Stuart bucketless and gives him a few good jabs before sending him down to the ice. This came not long in the game after the aforementioned penalty shot. Afterwards, Thornton joked that he shouldn’t have bought Stuart lunch some time before the game because maybe that made him think he wasn’t a potential fighting partner.
This fight quite nearly involves players sitting on both benches and the between-the-glass officials. After it’s broken up, though, Thornton sticks his tongue out to rile up the Flyers crowd on his way to the sin bin. (This video highlights the heightened tensions between the two teams in this game, including the hit Tom Sestito delivered to Nathan Horton that would ultimately end his season early.)
vs. Mike Weber, Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres, February 8, 2012 (6-0, Buffalo)
In Thornton’s second scrap of this game, he takes on Weber after Weber knocks down Benoit Pouliot while Thornton is coming off the bench (and after he gives a little shove to Jason Pominville). Thornton stands up for his teammate by peppering Weber with punch after punch until he’s down for the count.
At this point in the game, there will be no scoring changes, but Thornton tries to spark his team with a battle against Kassian. Though Kassian sets the initial tone of the fight with an onslaught that almost takes Thornton down, he bounces back and holds his own until the fight is broken up by officials. Thornton heads to the box with some visible souvenirs of the tussle.
Sparked by Regehr annoying Thornton (to the point that he swears audibly, which Jack Edwards notes with “ohh boy, Shawn Thornton just said a nasty word”), the two of them drop the gloves and Thornton downs Regehr pretty quickly. So, he earns his 20th fighting major of the season in the last game of the regular season, much to the delight of the Bruins crowd.
Thornton often hones his craft by boxing during the offseason. Perhaps one upside of a longer summer is that he has more time to sharpen his skills and maybe even exceed his personal record for fights next season!