There were no Boston-area natives on the Bruins’ roster that won the 2011 Stanley Cup championship.
But the way Shawn Thornton has embraced living in this city, he might as well be a native son.
Thornton’s dedication to this city and the Bruins organization were never more evident than when he spurned the chance to become an unrestricted free agent last summer and instead re-signed with Boston on a two-year deal worth less than market value at just a little more than $800,000 per season.
Thornton turned out to be one of the great bargains in all of hockey as he set career highs in goals, assists, points and plus/minus. All the while, he maintained his slot as one of the toughest pound-for-pound pugilists in the NHL and served as a dressing-room sounding board through the thick and thin.
Boston has embraced Thornton and he continues to reciprocate that love with the hardest-working shifts you’ll ever see.
Regular season: 79 GP, 10-10-20, plus-8
Playoffs: 18 GP, 0-1-1, minus-1
Contract status: Signed through 2011-12 at a cap hit of $812,500
Best regular-season moment: After a lackluster, passion-less 3-0 loss on home ice to Anaheim three nights earlier, Thornton made sure to wake his team up early against Atlanta. He dropped the gloves with veteran Eric Boulton two seconds into the game right off the opening faceoff. In case his fist-throwing ways didn’t do enough to spark the Bruins, Thornton also scored two goals and posted a plus-2 rating in a 4-1 win.
Best playoff moment: Seven games in the press box as a healthy scratch must feel like a lifetime to a guy like Thornton, who hates to watch hockey when he’s not playing it. When he got back in the lineup for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, he played his first shift as though he hadn’t played in years. His first act was a big hit on the forecheck on Alex Burrows. And then as the Garden crowd erupted, Thornton looked to the Canucks bench and verbally let Vancouver know the Bruins weren’t going to roll over after dropping the first two games.
Worst moment: Thornton’s worst experience this season had nothing to do with goal-scoring or fighting, it had to deal with his physical well-being. Cut just above his right eyebrow by a Fernando Pisani skate blade March 29, Thornton just missed suffering a life-altering injury. Luckily, he was healthy enough to miss just three games. And his manly scar will now just be part of his tough-guy persona.
Regular-season grade: A
Playoff grade: A-minus. Thornton and his linemates made up for some quiet games in the earlier rounds with a great showing in the second half of the Cup Final.
Carnac predicts … it doesn’t take Carnac to know what Thornton’s going to do next season. He’s going to accept whatever minutes the Bruins give him, drop his gloves when necessary and get tons of shots to the net — some of which will elude the opposing goaltender.