Thornton ready for contract year with Bruins

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Thornton ready for contract year with Bruins

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
Shawn Thornton is one of many Bruins players entering the final year of his contract, and looking forward to what the future brings for him in Boston.

The 34-year-old Bruins enforcer is coming off his best individual NHL season and his greatest team experience capturing the Cup with Boston, and he has set the bar high for himself this season. Thornton finished last year with a career-high 20 points (10 goals and 10 assists) along with a plus-8 rating and 122 penalty minutes as a staple within the Bs energy line, and continued as one of the most important leadership voices in an incredibly tight Bs dressing room.

So Thornton is coming off a career year and aiming to put together another one to earn a new deal with the Bruins in the adopted city of Boston that hes made his permanent home. As an enforcer in his mid-30s Thornton knows that hell have to prove himself again on the ice amid a group of peers that get meaner, bigger, stronger and younger every single season.

Sources have indicated to CSNNE.com that the Bruins and Thornton havent engaged in any talks on extending Bostons fighter at this point, but hes hopeful that he can play another four or five years in the NHL. That Thornton hopes it happens in the Boston market where hes carved out an identity for himself goes without saying.

I want to play as long as I can, said Thornton. Obviously there are a lot of things that go into it with injuries. But Ill never have to worry about my conditioning. I always pride myself on being as good shape as possible.

Barring injuries, I dont know, four or five more years. I love the game and I still have a passion for it, and I cant imagine not being around the guys. I love camaraderie. I love everything about it. I know for a fact if Im ever told to hang it up that Ill be miserable for a while afterward, so Ill keep playing as long as I can.

Thornton clearly hopes it all works out with the Black and Gold after the end of his upcoming fifth year with the Bruins, and why should it be any different now. Hes been the right guy in the right place for a role perfectly cast for him with the Bruins. He was able to take part in his banner-raising ceremony with his Anaheim Ducks after hed left to sign his first contract with the Bs, and hes enjoyed a front row seat to the Bruins revival since bursting on the scene in 2006-07.

Thornton calls it the luck of the Irish, and theres no reason to believe it wont stay with him in Boston for a good, long time beyond this season.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.