In response to lucdufour's comment:
1)Complaining about who should be the 4th line winger is a good problem to have.
This team has cap space and skill and is a Cup contender. All TOI needs to be utilized properly. True, no disagreement here.
2) 5 goals is not useless when you neutralize the other team's goon from trying to goat Lucic or Chara into 5 minutes of being off the ice or hurt (like Callahan)
Callahan was injured during a fracas with Max Talbot, not a goon. I'd rather have Chara and Lucic understand that they are not to fight goons (as they seem to understand) than waste a roster spot on on a goon. Wasn't my point. Having a goon minimizes the times our better players have to get in a fight to risk injury.
3) Thornton has coughed it up for a goal but has also scored a big goal for the B's this year. Even. It's also worth noting that Lucic probably coughs up the puck the most in his own zone as a winger. Not as many posts about this...just saying.
All players turn the puck over. If you spend minimal time on the ice and your turnover results in an opponent's goal, it's going to be magnified. True, but his goal should be recognized as well for the amount of time he plays.
4) If you have to rely on your 4th line for scoring, your team sucks.
This team doesn't have to rely on the fourth line for much outside of a breather for the skilled lines. Someone mentioned 5 goals as useless.
5) The 4th line typically sees less than 10 minutes of ice per game. Thornton gets less than 6 because he does not kill penalities.
If he isn't needed for killing penalties and doesn't stop opponents from taking cheap shots on good players (Savard, Horton x 2, Skinner's slew foot on Bergeron etc), then what exactly is his purpose? No disagreement here. Goons do not complete deter such actions; that is proven. His purpose is to fight other goons so Lucic doesn't have to.
6) For those who want Thornton out of the 4th line spot, who do you want for his replacement? Keep in mind point #2 and #4 before you answer. Also, if you want a young guy there- do you want him to get less than 6 minutes of ice time per game for his development?
Caron or an actual hockey player acquired in trade or via free agency. Again, the team has cap space. There are plenty of UFAs that would fit very nicely there. Another player like Caron will not take on the Jon Scotts of the world...or be at least willing. Another player may not develop with under 6 minutes of ice time per game.
7) Some may want a guy with more experience for the 4th line role.
This team has plenty of experience. True.
8) Thornton has 2 Stanley Cup rings. Fact. This may help with #7.
This couldn't possibly mean less. Also true....just some people (not me) equate experience with Stanley Cup experience. However, I do like guys on my team that know their role, accept their role, and do it well. Thornton does his role well in my opinion and I think many of his teammates would agree. A guy who could not fight may not like having less than 6 minutes of ice time.
9) I watched the away broadcasts of the last two games and both sets of announcers commented on how deep Boston is and "that they have a very good 4th line"....not that it matters much...but just saying. Maybe they are comparing our lineup to theirs.
Digging deep for more reasons here. Out of town broadcasters are not a quality resource when evaluating the home team players. Don't disagree. Was a reach...thus the "just saying". 4th lines do not directly determine Stanley Cup winners, however they do provide necessary balance in the form of penalty killlers, giving top line guys breathers, and providing energy through hitting, fighting, winning faceoffs, and drawing penalties.
10) Too much is made about being a "good guy in the locker room". Not sure if this ultimately means anything in a results oriented business, but it is better than being a "complete A-hole" in the locker room.
Can't really justify the roster spot for a guy who isn't a complete a-hole. There are plenty of those guys out there who can actually play hockey at the NHL level.
Whether you like it or not, this is not the Euro leagues---fighting is part of the NHL, and is the predominant skill sets for certain players. If no one else in the league had guys similar to Thornton, I would be the first to show him the exit. However, as long as guys like Parros, Scott, etc... exist and fighting is allowed, I want Thornton on my team.