Thornton gets warm reception, closure in Boston

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Thornton gets warm reception, closure in Boston

BOSTON -- Joe Thornton might have finally gotten his closure with the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

The former No. 1 overall pick of the Bruins never wanted to leave Boston when he was dealt away to San Jose during the 2005-06 season, and he never got his chance to say goodbye to the team, the fans or the city.

Amid a hotly contested 4-2 win for the Sharks that included a trademark Thornton assist on Joe Pavelskis goal in the first period, the Bruins and TD Garden folks honored Jumbo Joe with a video presentation commemorating his 1,000th game played in the NHL on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils. The Bs played a series of video clips from Thorntons best moments with the Bruins to Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix, and the Garden crowd followed with a long, embracing ovation for the former franchise center.

Thornton was never able to win in Boston and he probably never should have been the Bs captain as a young player, but Jumbo Joe was always a happy-go-lucky skater that nobody could truly hold a grudge against.

Thornton gave a wave, a salute with his gloved hand and a thumbs up when the camera centered on him amid the applause, and voiced his appreciation for the welcoming applause after the win.

It was great. Obviously this is where it all started, Thornton said. They gave me my chance, and I love coming back to this city. Ive still got so many friends here and theyre still part of my life.

Jumbo Joe and the Sharks have now won each of the last three trips back to Boston over the last three years, but the 6-foot-4 playmaking pivot couldn't put his finger on why his team has had so much success against the Bruins.

It just seems every time we play here, theyre a real talented team that plays defense first. I think when youve got good defensive teams going toe-to-toe, it seems to be a good game, Thornton said. Theyve got some good offensive players as well. It just always seems to be one-goal games and pretty exciting games, too.

It was a fairly run-of-the-mill night for Thornton on the ice with the assist and zero shots on net in nearly 19 minutes of play. And while everything else might fade away, the ovation and that final moment of closure with the fans he grew up trying to please might just stick with Jumbo Joe for a while.

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

BRIGHTON -- The on-ice portion of Bruins practice kicked off about an hour later than scheduled at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning.

The B's are reeling, having lost four games in a row for the first time this season after getting dumped by the Penguins, 5-1, in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Their standing in the Atlantic Division, and the playoff picture, is tenuous at best with so many other teams holding games in hand over them, and it truly looks like they're going to slide out of the race if they can’t reverse their fortunes.

So Claude Julien, saying "desperate times call for desperate measures," summoned the players to a video session where flaws, mistakes, half-hearted efforts and bad systems-play was pointed out in front of everyone. The team then took the ice to iron out those problems in an hour-long practice that the embattled Bruins coach hopes will lead to better results in the final two games, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, before the All-Star break.

“He was showing details that we were doing well early on in the season to have success, and little things that we’ve gotten away from that we need to correct,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “We need to start doing them again. It’s a game of little details and we need to make sure we do them right.”

While Chara wouldn’t comment on the tone of the video session, it’s clear that things like effort, determination and desperation were probably talking points just as much as fine-tuning Julien’s long-held offensive and defensive systems.

“It’s commitment," said Chara. "That’s for sure, that we need to have everybody doing that. We shouldn’t . . . at this level, at this time of the season, [have to be] asking guys to work hard. We’ve got to make sure that everybody is working hard, and everybody is paying his dues to be in the lineup and earn a spot.

“That’s the No. 1 priority: You have to compete and you have to work hard. Usually when you do those things, good things happen. We’ve got to back to those little things [with] hard work, commitment and competing every shift.”

Will an honest, direct video session between head coach and players be the key to stopping the team’s most demoralizing stretch of the season, and lead to a prolonged winning streak? Only time will tell.

But the Bruins need something to get spinning in an entirely different direction.