Monday marked the end of an era for Shawn Thornton in Boston as Peter Chiarelli announced that the Bruins will not be re-signing him in the off-season.
Thornton’s last year in Black and Gold was one to forget. His 2013-14 season included some subpar play against the Canadiens in the second round and a 15-game suspension for sucker punching Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik back in December. Still, his impact in helping revitalize the team during his seven-year tenure in The Hub of Hockey shouldn’t be ignored.
Here’s a look at the top 10 Shawn Thornton moments in Boston.
10. Thornton makes a cameo in “Ted”
The former Bruins enforcer is known to have a sense of humor (more on that later) and his cameo in Ted showed off his lighter side. Instead of getting the upper hand in this bout, Thornton would get knocked out by Mark Wahlberg during the concert scene on the Hatch Shell:
9. Thornton appears at “Hockey Resurrection”
This one holds a special place in our hearts. With the lockout over and an abbreviated 2013 season ahead, Thornton made a cameo for the “Hockey Resurrection” party at The Harp in January hosted by Bruins Daily, Days of Y’Orr, Boston Sports Then & Now, SupahFans Streetwear and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
8. Giving a verbal KO to a Vancouver columnist
The scene was set when Thornton was jumped by seven Canucks in front of the Vancouver bench – two of whom were not on the ice. Later on in the contest, Thornton challenged current Montreal Canadiens forward Dale Weise to a fight just a few moments after he dropped the gloves with another former Bruin, Nathan Horton.
That’s where Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher weighed in during an episode of “Sticks and Stones” on Comcast SportsNet. To little of Gallagher’s knowledge, Thornton was in the studio with Michael Felger, and delivered a verbal smackdown to Gallagher’s remarks.
“Now Shawn Thornton suddenly wants to fight the guy in the same period,” Gallagher said about Thornton. “He knows as well as any other fighter who’s ever played the game that that is unethical. To ask another guy to fight after he’s had a minute fight already in the same period.”
Yep, Thornton owned Gallagher on that exchange. But things might get interesting if former Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning decides to sign Thornton in the off-season as the new Canucks GM. Even if Thornton were to take his talents up north, it would be hard to imagine him exchanging christmas gifts with the Vancouver columnist.
7. Having fun with the media
Thornton’s takedown of Gallagher wasn’t the only moment he had with a media. Displaying his cunning sense of sarcasm, No. 22 decided to have a little fun with the media on the first day of training camp prior to the 2010-11 Stanley Cup campaign.
6. Fighting parkinson’s disease
From “Putts and Punches” to “Cuts for a Cause”, Thornton contributed tirelessly to raise money for cancer parkinson’s disease research – something that’s effected his family – and other local charities. As a result, Thornton and others launched the Shawn Thornton Foundation in the spring of 2013.
Wherever Thornton plays next year, the Thornton Foundation will still host “Putts and Punches” in August. Click here for more details of this year’s event.
Relive this year’s Cuts for a Cause event on Bruins Daily TV
5. A fight and two goals
Thornton’s first on-ice moment on this list came during the 2010-11 season. Prior to a late December bout against the
Winnipeg Jets Atlanta Thrashers, the Bruins were in midst of their longest slump of the season and fans were getting restless.
Well, the B’s responded to those critics that night, and Thornton was the star attraction. Just two seconds in, he engaged in a spirited bout with fellow enforcer Eric Boulton. He ended the night with two goals and a “Thornton” chant from the TD Garden faithful.
4. Thornton and Cooke go at it
When Matt Cooke delivered his career ending cheap shot to Marc Savard, Bruins fans were looking for some sort of redemption on Cooke and the Penguins. The B’s did not get their “revenge” in a sub par effort against Pittsburgh, but at least Thornton got some satisfaction when he dropped the gloves with Cooke just 1:57 into the contest.
It was Thornton’s only shift of the game, but he made the most of it in his KO of Cooke.
3. A nifty penalty shot goal vs. the Winnipeg Jets
Although he was known more for his energy on the Merlot Line – in addition for his willingness to drop the gloves on any occasion – Thornton did display some goal-scoring on occasion, including his penalty shot goal against the Winnipeg Jets in December of 2012.
What followed was a display of finesse that resulted in his first (and only) career penalty shot goal.
2. Setting the tone in Game 3 vs. the Canucks
Thanks to Tyler Seguin’s breakthrough performance in the first two games of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Shawn Thornton was sent to the press box for the remainder of their seven-game series with the Bolts. Additionally, he was a healthy scratch in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver, where the Canucks won both by one goal.
With desperation setting in, head coach Claude Julien made a bold move by inserting Thornton back in the lineup for Game 3 in place of Seguin. Julien’s trust in Thornton paid off on his very first shift where he leveled resident B’s villain Alex Burrows and set the tone in his first 19 seconds on the ice.
In a game that included Aaron Rome’s elbow to the head of Nathan Horton, eight B’s goals and more fist-a-cuffs, the Bruins needed Thornton’s physicality to counter the Canucks’ antics from the first two games – that included Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron’s hand in Game 1 and Maxim Lapierre taunting Bergy in Game 2. Although he was ejected in the third period of the contest, Thornton would not miss a game the rest of the way and continued to display that energy along with his fellow Merlot Line compadres, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell.
1. A community leader
His fight against Parkinson’s and other forms of cancer was one example of what Thornton meant to Boston. His approachable personality and dedication to the city is another example.
When I sat down with Thornton in a one-on-one interview for my three-part Boston Marathon story, he was quite emotional in his responses of what Boston means to him. From thanking law enforcement during a difficult time to playing a small role on the ice in the healing process, it was easy to see how Thornton took pride in being involved in the community.
On the ice, Thornton was there to do his job, and he did it pretty well. His contributions off the ice, however, will be remembered the most in his seven years in The Hub of Hockey.