Thornton cheered for Bruins during Cup Finals

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Thornton cheered for Bruins during Cup Finals

BOSTON -- Joe Thornton admitted that he was, indeed, rooting for the Black and Gold during last years Stanley Cup Finals.

But it seems that it had more to do with a fiery enmity toward the biting, flopping Vancouver Canucks, who eliminated his Sharks from the playoffs, than it did his Bruins heart strings tugging at him.

I was actually cheering for them in the Final, said Thornton of the Bs raising the Cup. After losing against Chicago in 2009-10 and then seeing Chicago win the Cup that season, it would have been hard to see Vancouver do that, too. I was cheering for the Bruins and I still have a lot of friends over there so I was happy for them.

Thornton was happy for the city of Boston, happy for the Bruins training staff that helped raise the hockey prodigy when he was in Boston as an 18-year-old rookie, and happy for Milan Lucic, whom he befriended during the 2008 NHL All-Star weekend. Its pretty clear Lucic has held Jumbo Joe in pretty high regard since that first encounter with the 6-foot-4 former No. 1 overall pick, and he was looking forward to their rare on-ice encounter when East meets West this time at TD Garden.

It seems like just yesterday I was a little kid watching Joe break into the league as a rookie, and so its a little bit of a thrill every time you line up against him, said Lucic. Obviously hes a big, strong center, and once you go after him hell fire off one of those great saucer passes to make you pay for it. Its always a challenge to play a great player like that.

It was a little conspicuous that Jumbo Joe didnt reach out to former Bruins teammates Tim Thomas and Patrice Bergeron after Boston won the Cup. But Thornton said he was looking forward to seeking out No. 30 and No. 37 on the ice Saturday before the game to give his hearty congratulations.

Its clear Thornton, who played in his 1,000th NHL game in Friday nights shootout win over the New Jersey Devils, has moved on. and there wasnt much sentimentality left for a stint in Boston he termed a long time ago now.

They havent had a Cup here in so long, so it was overdue, said Thornton. Its such a good sports town. It was nice to see the Bruins win one with the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox all winning in the past. It was for them to get theirs.

Thornton also assured the what if question never even entered his head.

Its so long ago, it feels like to me, said Thornton. Youre so consumed about what youve got to do in San Jose. There are no what ifs now.

It seems like there are no what-if questions being asked on either side these days whether its Thornton or Boston, and tonight its about the hockey and the need for a win more than any walks down memory lane.

Morning Skate: Blackhawks get band back together

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Morning Skate: Blackhawks get band back together

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while knowing that nobody will ever forget the courage and zest for life that 5-year-old Red Sox fan Ari Schultz showed in his far too short life. Rest in peace, little guy.  

 *PHT writer James O’Brien has the Chicago Blackhawks adjusting to the returns of both Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp after their short stints away from the fold. It will be really interesting to see if the Blackhawks can recreate their magic by bringing some of the past Cup pieces to the scene after last year’s disappointing end.

*Ilya Kovalchuk is primed for a return to the NHL in 2018-19 after playing one more season, an Olympic season no less, in the KHL.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Arpon Basu chronicling the day with the Cup in Montreal for Marc-Andre Fleury.

*Speaking of the Blackhawks, it sounds like Jonathan Toews is going to scale back on the “Captain Serious” approach to his hockey career this upcoming season.

*Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee is pleased with the state of his expansion team after looking at some of the pieces, and doing a little wheeling and dealing after the fact. I mean, you have to wheel and deal if you’re a hockey team in Vegas, right?

*Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar is relieved his new contract with the Winged Wheels will allow him to avoid arbitration.

*For something completely different: It remains to be seen whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but we’re completely in a culture where media entities are writing full stories about posters. Okay, I think this is a bad thing and my mind is already made up.