"Au revoir to the Fribble Line."
That was Michael Felger's reaction Monday to the Bruins' announcement they won't be bringing back Shawn Thornton, their enforcer and one of their clubhouse leaders since bringing him on board in 2007. (The "Fribble Line," of course, was the name given to Thornton's fourth line.) But he and his "Felger & Mazz" co-host, Tony Massarotti, both seemed to think Thornton's time in Boston had come to an end.
"There was a lot to like about what Thornton gave them," said Massarotti. "He always played hard, he wasn't your typical goon, all of those things.
"But I think he's slipping, I do."
Felger, however, felt the evolution of the game had marginalized Thornton's importance . . . and that the problem was exacerbated by the way he was employed by coach Claude Julien.
"Thornton's importance, it went [from playoff] series to [playoff] series," said Felger. "When Thornton came back into the series in Game 3 in Boston (of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals against the Canucks), it worked because Vancouver [is] mentally weak [and] physically weak. So Thornton could run around out there, saying things about [Roberto] Luongo's mother and threatening [Alexandre] Burrows, and it worked.
"But against other teams? Like against [the] Montreal Canadiens, squirting water on P.K. Subban . . . Montreal, it doesn't faze them. And depending on the matchup, I think there's value to a guy like that, and not. My issue with [coach Claude Julien is that] it wasn't situational. Use him when it works, don't use him when it doesn't."