Bruins' Thornton: Fighting is necessary part of the game


Bruins' Thornton: Fighting is necessary part of the game

WILMINGTON -- Shawn Thornton isn't shy. He'll tell you that fighting is part of his job. And he won't be lying.

So when some try to use his fight with the 6-foot-8 John Scott as an example to eliminate fighting from the game, they're also trying to take away the job that Thornton is so good at.

"I don't like when people try and take advantage of the situation," said Thornton after Thursday's optional Bruins skate at Ristuccia Arena. "It's part of their agenda. There's fighting in hockey. It's in the game. I think it's a necessary part of the game. I don't think it's going anywhere, so there's no point in really even dwelling on it.

"Plus, I'm a big boy. I know what I'm getting into."

Thornton knew exactly what he was getting into in the opening minutes of last week's game against the Buffalo Sabres at the TD Garden. He understood the six-inch height difference between him and Scott. But he also understands -- to this day -- why he dropped the mitts off a neutral-zone face-off with the Sabres' newly-acquired enforcer, who clearly presented a mismatch.

"Obviously with Buffalo, they brought Scott in probably because of our team," said Thornton on Thursday. "It's my job to make sure that I'm available for that, so it's not one of our star players that has to do it. That's part of my role. And I accept it fully.

"I wish it went differently. I knew it was going to happen, and it was better to get it out of the way early. Would you rather that, or wait until he does something stupid and I have to deal with it. It was out of the way and it was a non-factor after that, I think."

A larger argument for the anti-fighting crowd is that of fights that are "staged." Some would consider most fights that happen off early face-offs can sometimes seem pre-determined to those not on the ice. But Thornton pointed out on Thursday, that just because some fights may look staged to an outsider, that doesn't mean they are.

"There's usually some rhyme or reason to when I'm doing it," said Thornton. "Some may look staged, but there might have been something that happened before. Sometimes it's momentum and all that stuff too.

"Just two guys going out and doing it for no apparent reason, you don't see me do that too often."

Thornton said that Scott hit him in the soft spot behind his ear, which caused his legs to go out from underneath him. Having talked to some fighters outside of hockey, Thornton found out that he had a normal reaction to getting hit in that spot. Had he got hit on the top of the head, Thornton doesn't believe he'd even be still talking about the fight.

But he is, because he has missed the last two games with a concussion he suffered in that fight with Scott last Thursday. Thornton skated on Thursday, and said afterwards that he's been cleared for practice and cleared for contact. He just doesn't know his status for Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the TD Garden.

One thing he was sure of, though, was fighting's place in the game. He agrees, it shouldn't be staged. But fighting belongs. It's his job. He would know. And he doesn't want anyone else to fight his battles. Not even if it means the captain -- Zdeno Chara -- sizes up much better with a guy like Scott.

"I don't even know where that bleep comes from," said Thornton on Thursday. "Chara's our best player and arguably the best defenseman in the league. There's no reason for him to have to fight my battles. I've done this for a long time, and it's on me.

"Listen, if I knocked Scott out, I wasn't expecting somebody to come grab me the next shift. It's part of it. We're both men. It happens."

One reporter tried to point out, that, while fighting might happen, it isn't a requirement.

"I beg to differ, in my role," said Thornton.

"It's part of the job," Thornton later added. "I wouldn't overreact."

He would know.