The Bruins fourth line is going to look a lot different next season.
Shawn Thornton will not be back with the team. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli made the announcement on Monday.
Thornton played seven seasons with the Bruins from 2007-08 to 2013-14, fitting in well on the team's fourth line providing energy, skill, and toughness.
"Today I met with Shawn and we had a good meeting and I informed him that we wouldn't be re-signing him," Chiarelli said. "It was good in the sense that we talked about the time Shawn has spent here. He came here, we're talking about seven years, so he was here from almost the beginning and I told him that he was one of the most significant acquisitions we made because he was one for the role that he played, two for the person that he is, and it was nice to rehash his time. It was sad to tell him that he wasn't combing back. but i wished him well and Shawn was real up front about it.S o i wished him luck and I'm sure he'll have success with his next team."
Thornton played 480 regular season games for the Bruins over his career, finishing with 76 points (34 goals, 42 assists). He also accumulated 748 PIM over that span as the B's tough guy.
Thornton was not only instrumental in the B's success over the years on the ice, but also in the dressing room. He was one of the leaders. And the way he carried himself off the ice was also something the younger players could look up to.
"On-ice first, the role that he played, I thought when he came here, I think his conditioning really went to the next level and he was able to form one-third of maybe the best fourth line in hockey for the longest time," Chiarelli said. "Of course there's the pugilistic part of his game which is an important part, and he was very good about that and that it was a job that not a lot of people like to do but it was a job that was important. So he came and he thrived and was really a common factor in every year he contributed. He scored some timely goals, he's got some surprising skill for what role he brings, and of course he won a Cup with us and went to the Finals again.
"Off the ice he seems to be- I see him doing a lot of stuff for charitable organizations. He enjoys it, he embraces it, he's a very personable and genuine guy. So he'll be missed. It's a bit of a sad day, but I think Shawn was good, he embraced it in the time that he spent here and I think that's how he'll look at it."
The NHL seems to be moving away from the token tough guys that every team once employed. Top to bottom, lines are gaining speed, and it was apparent in the postseason that the B's fourth line was slow against the Canadiens. If they're looking to speed things up, it makes sense to part ways with Thornton. But Thornton is much more than just a fighter, and with the added skills and leadership qualities he possesses should find another job in the NHL.