On the occasion of Shawn Thornton‘s 35th birthday today (which would make him old enough to run for president–if, of course, he were American), let’s take a look back at some of his finer moments since he became part of the Boston Bruins. Some of the moments include video. If you’re looking for more physical aspects of Thornton’s game, look to this list of some of his best fights from the past season.
Making history at the Winter Classic
Thornton made history, along with Daniel Carcillo from the Philadelphia Flyers, when he participated in the first-ever fight in Winter Classic history. It was short and generally expected by the commentators, but still puts another bullet point on the list of things that happened at the 2010 Winter Classic (along with the fact that, as of 2012, the Bruins are still the only home team to have won a Winter Classic).
Taking Mom home
The Bruins played an exhibition game against the Belfast Giants in Belfast, Northern Ireland in October 2010. Thornton’s mother, Christine Mills, was born in Belfast and emigrated to Canada as a young girl. So, Thornton made sure his mom could accompany the team to Northern Ireland (which, if I may digress for a moment, is a gorgeous place; I spent a week in Belfast in 2008 and it was amazing). He also got 20 tickets for the exhibition game that were given to various relatives.
Big Christmas present
Just before Christmas 2010, Thornton had a pretty big night against the Atlanta Thrashers. Not only did he fight Eric Boulton, he also scored two goals, and as he was on the precipice of his first hat trick, the crowd at TD Garden starts to chant his name. Plus, his parents were in attendance. These two goals contributed to his career-high output of 10 goals and 10 assists in 2010-11.
Second Cup championship
Thornton already wore one Stanley Cup ring from his days with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, but in June 2011, he made it two when the Bruins won the sixth Cup in team history. Sure, in the 18 games he played during those playoffs, he managed just one assist, but he gave good advice to Tyler Seguin about being ready to play if needed and shot some energy into the lineup when he was reinserted during the Stanley Cup Final. He spent his two days with the Cup in Toronto and Oshawa.
“Enjoy your five games, kid”
NBC Sports Network, then known as Versus, aired a special just after the Bruins’ banner-raising game to open the 2011-12 season. It chronicled the journey to the Cup and the game that commemorated it, a losing effort against the Flyers. At one point, Philly’s Zac Rinaldo gets under Thornton’s skin, causing the veteran to tell the newbie to enjoy his presumably short call-up to Philadelphia, because he would be back in the [expletive] minors before he knew it. (Thornton was wrong, though: Rinaldo ended up playing 66 games in Philadelphia and four with their AHL club.)
Debating Tony Gallagher
The Stanley Cup rematch between the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks in January 2012 was a contentious game, to say the least. Tensions flared and, at one point early in the game, Thornton was in the middle of a pile-up. A Comcast hockey talk show provided Thornton the opportunity to talk about the game with Gallagher, a Vancouver Province columnist who, to put it nicely, had a difference of opinion with him. Thornton easily downs an argument about height and weight differences by pointing out that he once fought the now-deceased Derek Boogaard. At one point, he leaves Gallagher stammering to find another argument.
The penalty shot
Really, does anything else need to be said about this? In a January 2012 game against Winnipeg, Thornton gets a phantom check to the head call and goes to the box. On his way out, he has the puck on a breakaway and quite nearly gets to the net, but is thwarted–and earns a penalty shot. He is successful, proving true his adage of “Hey, we can play.”
“There would be support”
In April 2012, Thornton sat down for an exclusive interview with David Zimmerman of Boston Spirit, a magazine focusing on the LGBT community in the New England area. He told Zimmerman simply that, if a member of the Bruins were to come out as gay, there would be no problems in the locker room. Why? Simply put, the Bruins are a family, he explains, and they watch out for each other. He also didn’t care about being targeted as a result of his ally statements. This interview came just around the time that the You Can Play Project was starting to gain popularity, too.
Plus, with Thornton signing a new deal in March, keeping him in Boston for at least two more years, more moments like these are on the horizon.