Thornton does it all in Bruins' win over Jets

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Thornton does it all in Bruins' win over Jets

BOSTON -- Shawn Thornton is coming off a pretty extreme week.

The Bs enforcer was the focus of discussion when anentire on-ice contingent of Vancouver Canucks -- plus a couple of ranch hands from the bench --infamously attacked him in front of Vancouver'sbench Saturday afternoon. That sequence of events led to the Canucks enjoying an inexplicable 5-on-3 advantage, on which they scored the games first goal, and infuriated the fiery Thornton.

Hewas running just as hotlater in the periodwhen Vancouver tough guy Dale Weise slinked away from Thornton after agreeing to drop the gloves for a mano-a-mano encounter.

Thornton never truly got his frustrations out against the Canucks that day. So instead the Bs energy-line forward took seethinganger and considerablerancor out on the unwitting Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night in a whirlwind second period of activity that helped lead to a 5-3 win.When it was all said and done Thornton scored on a silky smooth penalty shot goal, bludgeoned a former B's teammate in an old-fashioned donnybrook and humbled a Vancouver columnist that called him "unethical" in a postgame TV appearance on Comcast SportsNet New England. That's what you call the "Shawn Thornton Hat Trick."It started on a down note with another questionable call for illegal contact to the headto Chris Thorburn minutes into the second period. Replays showed no contact between Thorntons shoulder and the Jets forwards head, but the B's enforcer went to the box for two minutes.It was too late once the hand was raised and the whistle was blown, but the nearest official admitted shortly afterward that it was -- in fact -- a botched call against Thornton and the Bruins.

The ref admitted he had messed up the call, he apologized, said Thornton. From the angle he was at, he said he thought I made contact with his head. Mistakes happen. Obviously I wasnt happy with it, but he admitted it and hes a veteran ref, so you give him the benefit of the doubt most of the time.

But karma and Thorntons burning anger allowed for things to turn around immediately after that. A fortunate puck bounce allowed Thornton to break free into the offensive zone for a partial shorthanded breakaway immediatley upon exiting the box, and a penalty shot was called when Thornton was prevented fromsqueezingoff a sufficient scoring bid.

Thats when the real magic showed up.

Thornton admitted he was a little nervous moving infor his first career penalty shot as a professional. Hed never even been chosen for a shootout over the course of his NHL career.

So what did Thornton do?

He went to the one shootout move that Tuukka Rask knows from their shootout drills in practice.

You guys probably wont believe it, but I practice that move a bunch we do a lot of shootouts at the end of practice, said Thornton. It used to work until Tuukka knew it by heart. After they called the penalty shot I looked at Tuukka and he was shaking his head yes to try it, so why not?

He went forehand to backhand before roofing a shot under the bar, and tied the game at 2-2. He even gave the traditional Ray Bourque double fist pump following the sweet toe drag, infusing the Bruins -- and fans -- with energy that had been missing.

He made a great move, scored a nice goal, did a great job, again, tonight, standing up for himself and his team, said coach Claude Julien. He deserves a lot of credit for the way he played tonight.

We were a team that didnt show as much emotion in the first two periods, and he was capable of doing his job and doing it properly. He certainly is one of those guys that I thought had a good outing tonight.

Thornton kept it up in the second period when he laterfought one of his best friends in hockey, Mark Stuart, five minutes later. The former carpool buddies and Charlestown homeboys were among the closest of friends during theirtime together in Boston, and Thornton was genuinely upset when Stuartwas traded to Atlanta last season.

But that didnt stop the Bs tough guy from rocking Stuart with a series of uppercuts and overhand rights in a unanimous decision after Stuart had thrown him off balance during a scrum in front of the net. It was the fourth time this season that Thornton has fought a former teammate, good friend or road roommate, and its all business as usual during each and every bout.

He cleared me out in front of the net there after the whistle and I took exception to it, said Thornton. Hes a good friend of mine hes a character guy. Hes a guy that I was sad to see leave Boston, but at the same time he knew Id be pushing back. Hes the type of guy who will stand up for himself.

I just wasnt going to let him take liberties on me and I figured Id push back and we went, its as simple as that. Ill still buy him a beer after the game if I see him no hard feelings.

It was another evening that wouldnt have ended in victory if the Bruins didnt have the criminally underratedThornton. Hes one of the most dangerous fourth-line enforcers in the game when it comes to both kicking in offense and forcing the other teams to play an honest game.

He did a little bit of both in a wild middle 20 minutes en route to yet another victory for the Black and Gold over the last three months. Maybe hell even get into Claude Juliens shootout rotation going forward.

I was lobbying before about the shootout, said Thornton. Im pretty sure Tuukka will still be ahead of me.

It looks like the NHL enforcer with the decent pair of mitts is still looking for a little respect even after his golden penalty shot maneuver that helped the B's to victory.

Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

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Despite discord, Goodell's reign may not be nearing end

Monday may have marked a low point in the relationship between the NFL and its on-field employees.

The fight between the league and its best player of the past two decades was in the headlines again. Tom Brady, tied to the NFL’s bumper and dragged around for almost 500 days, had his NFLPA legal team baring its teeth again in the Deflategate mess. The eye-gouging and hair-pulling in that imbroglio over a puff of air allegedly being removed from footballs has cost the league and the PA about $25M so far.

Meanwhile, NFLPA President Eric Winston was saying the league "cannot be trusted to do the right thing when it involves players.” That comment flowed from a Congressional report alleging the NFL tried to exert influence over who would conduct studies regarding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), the condition that’s been blamed for a myriad of former players winding up addled, incapacitated or dead.

I say “may have marked” because the relationship between the two sides has cratered so frequently over the past two years, it’s hard to know exactly what the low point has been. Or how much lower it can go.

And, with the 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement only half done, there is ample opportunity for things to get worse. Because, really, why would they get better?

With the NFL’s owners safe knowing that their emperor/puppet/human shield is still in place to take the hits and do their dirty work, there’s seemingly no groundswell among that group to relieve Roger Goodell of his duties. Despite reports of growing owner discontent over Deflategate, the Ray Rice investigation, and an appeal of a case in which the league was found to have withheld $100M from players, there is no Sword of Damocles dangling over the league to cut ties with Goodell.

He was able to oversee the league’s re-entry in Los Angeles (though that “triumph” was fraught with owner acrimony), is going to get a game played in China, keeps edging closer to getting a franchise based in Europe and may even land one in Las Vegas, has enhanced the league’s reach on social media (the announcement of some games being aired on Twitter) and keeps making billions hand over fist.

Goodell’s presence won’t be an impediment to a new labor deal getting done for another five years. By then, when the issues of Goodell’s role in player discipline, drug testing and his relationship with the union come to the fore, the owners might feel compelled to cut him loose after 15 seasons in charge.

But even then, the league’s owners will be in the business of pointing out to the players how good they’ve had it under the current CBA. The league’s salary cap structure – decried as a disaster in the first years of the deal – has seen the cap grow from $120M in 2011 to $155M this year. Players’ practice time and the wear and tear on their bodies has been reduced thanks to the new limits on contact enacted. Benefits are better. Retired players are getting better care. Players have more off-field marketing opportunities with companies that want to affix themselves to the most popular sport in the United States.

As bad as the headlines have been for Goodell, in five years (or probably fewer since negotiations on a new CBA will begin in 2020) who will remember the disaster that’s been Deflategate? How inspired will players be to miss games and paychecks for the satisfaction of knowing Goodell can’t be his own arbitrator anymore?

To sum it up, Goodell’s dark disciplinary reign may well continue unabated for a few more seasons. But as long as the league rains money on its players through the end of this decade, the clock isn’t ticking on Goodell and the owners in the form of labor strife.

Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

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Smith: Brady made an 'incredibly generous offer' to settle Deflategate

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the Dan Patrick Show -- hosted by Ross Tucker on Monday -- to discuss the petition that was eventually filed to the Second Circuit requesting a rehearing for Tom Brady's case. 

During the discussion, Smith insisted that Brady made a settlement offer long ago that might've resolved things. But because the NFL wanted more, a deal was never struck. Now here we are, almost 500 days since the AFC Championship Game in January of 2015, and Deflategate is still a living, breathing thing. 

"Tom's a standup guy," Smith said. "And I think he made a settlement offer to resolve this. The league chose not to take it, and that's where we are . . . I don't want to go into details, but it was an incredibly generous offer to resolve this. The league asked for something that no man should agree to do."

Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran explained on Monday's episode of Quick Slants that Brady was willing to accept a one-game suspension for a lack of cooperation at the outset of the investigation. But the league was looking for a face to take the blame, Curran explained. 

Both Jim McNally and John Jastremski were willing to take the heat off of Brady, but Brady insisted that he would not throw anyone else under the bus because he believed that there was no wrongdoing on his part or anyone else's when it came to the preparation of game footballs. 

With no one offered up to shoulder the blame, the NFL declined to agree to any proposal from Brady's camp. At that point, it would have been almost impossible to predict that this case would one day be only a step or two from getting the US Supreme Court involved. 

Yet here we are.