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According to Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, enforcer Shawn Thornton will not be returning to the Boston Bruins this offseason. Thornton has skated for the B’s for seven season and was a key role player when he helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011, the second of his career.
At a time when the Bruins were the laughingstock of the league, Thornton was brought in to bring some toughness, leadership, and most importantly, accountability. He held his teammates responsible for their level of play and he held his opponents responsible for any antics they tried to inflict on his teammates. Bruins fans love him as a blue collar guy who played a simple game and was always willing to drop the gloves.
The “Big Bad Bruins” reputation just would not have been the same if “Thorty” hadn’t been a part of the team. He was always the first to answer the bell when one of his teammates took a bad hit or was being baited into a fight. Guys in the enforcer role often had a bad reputation, but Thornton was almost always on the right side of the line. He will be missed.
It’s unclear exactly where the Bruins will go to replace him on the fourth line, but it will mostly be an in-house option. Between young guys like Matt Fraser, Justin Florek, Anthony Camara, and Matt Lindblad, they have different options available. They say merlot gets better with age, but the Bruins simply need to get younger.