Bruins Blog

A Different Feel of Excitement For Bruins, Thornton

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By Tim Rosenthal, Bruins Daily

For seven seasons, Shawn Thornton captivated Bruins fans with his energy and intensity he brought on a nightly basis. He was well respected in the B’s locker room, and his attitude was well respected throughout the city of Boston.

Unfortunately, the business side got the best of the Bruins-Thornton relationship. Due to the tight cap space, and the need to spice up the “Merlot” line with a little offense, GM Peter Chiarelli and the long-time enforcer parted ways during the summer.

During the month of July, Thornton signed a new contract with the Florida Panthers. Still, he calls Boston home. His foundation is still planning yearly events in the area, including their annual golf tournament held every August.

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Fast forward a few months later, as Thornton prepares to face his former team for the first time since signing his two-year contract in the offseason. Similar to Johnny Boychuk’s return last week, Thornton will feel a little different when he faces his former team. But he is looking forward to facing the Black and Gold and also is anticipating a good response from the 17,565 at the TD Garden.

On Bruins Daily: Bruins-Panthers Game Day preview

“Oh, I’ll probably be crying like a baby,” laughed Thornton as he fielded questions from the Boston media during the Panthers’ optional morning skate. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s going to be fun.”

“Excited and different are two words that I’ve used a lot. There’s probably no other way to say it,” Thornton added. “I’m going to enjoy it and embrace it as much as possible. It was great while I was here. I’m hoping to get that reception. If [I] do, it’ll be appreciated, that’s for sure.”

On the ice, Thornton wasn’t one who would put the puck in the back of the net on a daily basis. But he made up for it for dropping the gloves when things got out of hand, while also being a stalwart with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille on the beloved “Merlot Line”.

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Still, Thornton had some memorable moments. From setting the tone after being inserted into the lineup in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final against the Vancouver Canucks, to providing an emotional lift when returning after hobbling off the ice against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 of last year’s second round series and his presence in the locker room, Thornton’s contributions were well appreciated by his teammates.

On Bruins Daily: Thornton’s top 10 moments in Boston

“He always brought a lot of fun and energy to the [locker] room,” Brad Marchand said about Thornton. “We all have to pick up the chatter now that he’s gone. It’s different without him. I’m not getting yelled at by him, which is nice [laughs], but he’s definitely missed.”

Even with all the memories, Paille will feel a little awkward when he sees his former linemate across the ice on Tuesday night. But he hopes this result will be a little different from the night Boychuk returned.

“It’ll be just like Johnny [Boychuk], where it will be really awkward seeing him on the other side,” Paille said to reporters after Monday’s practice. “But you just have to keep battling, and it will be difficult to do that. I know he’s going to everything he can to beat us, so we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We kind of have to see that jersey on the other side, see that he’s the enemy and out-battle him.”

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By the time puck drops, the Bruins will have to shake off that awkward feeling of facing another former teammate. By the end of the game, it will be back to normal as they hope to reconvene at some point over dinner, golf or any other social related activity.

“It will be fun,” Marchand said. “I think we’ve all grown to have a good relationship with Thorty and it will be fun seeing him on the other side and see what he has to say.”

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