General manager Peter Chiarelli announced Monday afternoon that the Bruins will not re-sign winger Shawn Thornton, leaving the 36-year-old enforcer to search for a new home when free agency begins in a few weeks on July 1.
|Time's up: Shawn Thornton will not return to the Bruins next season (via bleacherreport.com)|
Speaking to BostonBruinsTV, Chiarelli had much to say about the contributions Thornton made to the Bruins over the last seven years spent with the club, citing the dirty work he was tasked to deal with on a nightly basis as the enforcer, and touching on the success of winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Today I met with Shawn, and we had a good meeting, and I informed him that we wouldn't be resigning him. It was good in the sense that we talked about the time Shawn has spent here, and he came here, we're talking about seven years, so he was here from almost the beginning and I told that he he was one of the most significant acquisitions we made because he was one, for the role that he played, two, for the person that he is, and it was nice to rehash his time. It was sad to tell him he wasn't coming back but I wished him well and Shawn was real upfront about it and I wished him luck and I'm sure he'll have success with his next team
On his role as a fourth-line enforcer, Chiarelli said
The role that he played when he came here...he was able to form 1/3 of maybe the best fourth line in hockey for the longest time. There's of course the pugilist part of his game that is an important part, and he was very good about that and it was a job not a lot of people want to do but it was a job that was important, and he came and he thrived and was really a common factor every year....he's got some surprising skill for the role that he brings, and he won a Cup with us and went to the Final again...
In 480 regular season games played for the Bruins, Thornton scored 34 goals and recorded 42 assists for 76 total points. Serving as the enforcer, he recorded 590 PIMs and 104 total fights in the regular and postseason combined. He's been the perfect fourth line grinder/enforcer that any NHL team could have hoped for for the past seven years.
But the NHL is evolving, and the the Bruins seemingly want to be ahead of the curve on retooling their energy line. Out with the fighters, the enforcers and the bruising checkers. Insert speed, youth and skill. The Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks, winners of four of the past five Stanley Cups, have set the standard of how to field a championship team: speed, skill and versatility on all four lines that can skate and score.
What Thornton brings to the table will be sorely missed by the Bruins. His time spent with the team is to be applauded and revered. Stay tuned to Bruins Life for the coming weeks as we pay tribute to Thornton and dissect his possible landing spots for next season.