For a long time Shawn Thornton was one-third of the best fourth line in the NHL, but that time has come to an end.
When GM Peter Chiarelli informed the enforcer that he would not be a Bruin next season he was not upset; instead the two reflected on Thornton’s seven impressive years in Boston.
In an interview with Boston Bruins TV, Chiarelli said that he told Shawn Thornton “he was one of the most significant acquisitions” he has made since becoming the Bruins GM.
Playing along side Danny Paille and Gregory Campbell, Thornton received regular shifts from HC Claude Julien, and the Bruins could always rely on the trio for bodying up the opposition.
Thornton embraced his role on the fourth line, and other teams respected him. Although his reputation may have been tarnished a bit after the incident with Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Brooks Orpik, the Bruins’ community loved him. He was consistently involved with charity events and he enjoyed engaging with children throughout the Boston area.
At 36 years old, it is unlikely that Thornton will hang up the skates. His fighting skills will surely be desired by another team looking to acquire some grit.
As the league changes, less and less teams are incorporating enforcers into their lineups, but Thornton made a case for himself as one of the most tenacious tough guys in Bruins history. Although he was no Terry O’Reilly or Cam Neely, Thornton would square up with anyone, and believe it or not, he actually had skill.
Although he was frequently labeled as a pylon, Thornton was no plug. He came through for the Bruins with some timely goals, and his defensive presence was superb.
While many people anticipated Thornton’s departure, he will be greatly missed in Boston.