Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli didn't beat around the bush with this one. Coming right out after meeting with Bruins 4th line legend, Shawn Thornton, letting the press know that they were not going to renew the Forward's contract next season. While on paper, statistically and financially it makes sense, the Bruins will flat out miss his presence not only has a physical enforcer on the ice, but his veteran leadership off it.
His seven year's of service for the Bruins was probably a lot more then most people anticipated as he was largely just a throw in on the Joe Thornton/Brad Stuart trade. He ended up being a very valuable member of the team. He spent most of his time of the fourth line as an enforcer and being the Bruins muscle, willing to throw his body around and willing to drop the gloves with any and all comer's of all shape's and size's. A complete stand up guy, willing to do what it take's to help his team win on a nightly basis, he was also a very quotable commodity in Boston. Also helping the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011.
A very positive teammate in every sense of the word, Thornton had a knack for keeping his teammate's in line. He always tried to keep his teammate's going, letting them know that they were still in it if they were down, letting them know that they need to finish a period strong when they're up. All of those things are something that you won't see on paper. I think at the end of the day, they will miss that more then they think down the road. But as everyone understand's, it is a business and he wasn't going to make the salary that he made this past season which was a little over $1 million dollars, which in today's day in age is pennies to the dollar, but the Bruins have some key free agents to try to keep as well, such as Torey Krug.
Thornton also had a knack for scoring an occasional big goal when you least expect it. One of my favorites was a penalty shot he was awarded against the Winnipeg Jets in 2012:
Or another goal where he dangled around seemingly every Florida Panther on the ice:
The main sole purpose he was on the Bruins was to be that enforcer. To intimidate other team's player's that crossed the line, that put down one of the Bruins offensive weapon's. You see anything like that, you bet your bottom dollar that Shawn Thornton was going to say about that. He would drop the glove's anyone who was willing to drop the glove's with him. More often then not, that player was bigger then Thornton, but more often then not, Thornton would come out victorious. My favorite Thornton fight was the first fight with Matt Cooke after Cooke's knockout blow to the B's Marc Savard:
Not caring that the referee's are trying to break it up.
In turn, the Bruins will greatly miss his presence. He was a fan favorite and as a Bruins fan myself, I'd like to thank Shawn Thornton for all the memories, the Stanley Cup, and wish him nothing but the best. We all wish he could have ended his career in Beantown, but he will always be a Bruin.