In February, the Boston Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton signed a two-year, $2.2 million contract extension with the best of intentions, probably thinking that he would be able to play full-length seasons for both of those years. As we enter November, or NoNHLvember as I saw someone on Twitter call it due to the cancelled games, Thornton is now starting to ponder his future.
“For guys like me I have a few years left and I’m kind of caught in the middle and squeezed out on both sides,” he said.
At age 35, he knows he can’t do this job forever.
“If this goes on for a year or two then I’m probably done and I have to go back to working for a living. That’s fine. I’ve done it before. I worked in a steel factory when I was younger. But on the other side I’d like to play out the last two years of my contract and be a little bit ahead after fighting 400 times over the last 15 years.”
He’s only the latest in a series of older players who have openly considered what the lockout’s length could do to the future of their NHL careers. Other players who have had to think hard about the future include 37-year-old Kimmo Timonen, 39-year-old Daniel Alfredsson, 40-year-old Jaromir Jagr and 41-year-old Sean O’Donnell. On the other end of the age spectrum, 20-year-old Justin Faulk is worried about kicking his NHL career off on the right foot because of this lockout.
Also consider the fact that the 2004-05 lockout ended the careers of more than 200 players who had been on team lineups in 2003-04.
Still, the idea of the Bruins without their beat cop Thornton, the guy who can drop the gloves but who can also score on an excellent penalty shot opportunity when it is called for, on top of everything else the lockout has forced NHL fans to think about is definitely not palatable.