Shawn Thornton recently inherited an unofficial title among the Boston Bruins. With Tim Thomas definitely deciding not to play–and being suspended–Thornton and Zdeno Chara are now the oldest players on the team. Both men are 35 years old, although Chara will celebrate his 36th birthday a few months before Thornton.
Chara is still captain of the team and I don’t expect that to change any time soon, but could Thornton soon get a new letter added to his sweaters?
Last season, Patrice Bergeron served as an alternate–another thing I don’t expect to see changing for 2013–while Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly shared the other alternate role between home and road games, swapping their duty stations halfway through the campaign. But could Thornton, who said he was captain of every team he played for in the minors and has always taken pride in his leadership role, become the team’s newest A? Tyler Seguin doesn’t think so.
“No. Just because he would talk about it all the time and I think he’s fine right where he is without the letter. Everyone knows he’s the first guy to defend you on the ice and the first guy to defend you off the ice,” he told ESPN Boston. That desire to help extends off the ice, according to Seguin, who said that Thornton is the kind of guy who would pay your bail and get you out of jail.
Bergeron also heaped praise on the beat cop Thornton.
“He’s always going to be there for his teammates and will always step up for his teammates on the ice. He means a lot and we saw it in the playoffs two years ago,” he said.
Sure, Thornton has almost 13 hours of penalty minutes to his name and was tied with Brandon Prust for fighting majors with 20 last season, so that might not be the most traditional ‘leadership’ aspect of his game. But to look at it a different way, Thornton defends his teammates using his skill set and it’s obvious that his teammates appreciate what he can do. The fact is that Chara, Ference, Kelly and even Bergeron have all gotten into fights before. Thornton just does it more often. A lot more often.
It’s clear that Thornton has an important role in the team. Could that importance be rewarded with an A above that Spoked B soon?