Thornton says he would accept a gay teammate

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Thornton says he would accept a gay teammate

Many dont think of NHL enforcers as the most welcoming and accepting sorts within the world of professional hockey, but time and again those roughly-hewn hockey fighters defy convention.

They are some of the brightest and most personable people youll find in a hockey dressing room, and Shawn Thornton is a perfect example of the NHL brawling brethren in both words and actions. The Bs enforcer has turned himself into a leader, a champion and a player that can be trusted on the ice; off the ice hes become the conscience of the Boston locker room in many ways.

So it would be important for any teammate to gain Thorntons acceptance, and the hockey fighter had some enlightening and encouraging comments when he was recently asked some hypothetical questions involving gay teammates. The Bs enforcer granted a one-on-one interview with Boston Spirit, and said hed welcome a gay teammate within his dressing room.

There isnt a single out professional athlete currently playing in any of the four major sports, and its one of the last major walls to be broken through as society has become much more accepting of alternative lifestyles. Thornton admitted he wasnt exposed to many examples of homosexuality growing up in a blue collar town outside of Toronto, but that wouldnt stop him from accepting gay players on his own team with open arms.

Honestly, my teammates are like family so there would be support. I would personally support him and Im pretty sure everyone in our locker room would, said Thornton during the interview. Weve got a pretty good bunch of guys. I dont think there would be any issues.

Thorntons teammate Zdeno Chara also opened the doors with a welcoming attitude when he took part in Patrick Burkes You Can Play campaign preaching acceptance of gay and lesbian athletes within the world of sports. Chara filmed a commercial during the NHL All-Star break in Ottawa that aired throughout the second half of the hockey season, and marked the Bruins as a team full of players with open minds and accepting hearts.

Were family in here. Were around each other more than our own families so you create a certain bond and everyone supports each other in whatever they are doing. Thats definitely the case in this locker room, said Thornton. I have known all of these guys for a long time. All that we went through last year the Bruins won the Stanley Cup as league champions and being around each other until mid-June, I know this room would be unbelievable.

The Bruins have proven that with their words and their actions as the world of sports is slowly catching up to the rest of society.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.