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.

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

Haggerty: Legacies on the line at edge of another Bruins collapse

BRIGHTON, Mass – Let’s start with the straight fact that it’s asinine, apologist drivel to let the Bruins off the hook, and perpetuate an off-the-mark myth there isn’t enough talent on the B's roster to be a playoff hockey team.

They are middle-of-the-road in the talent department to be sure, and the roster depth clearly isn’t what it was in their elite years, as the Bruins balance an aging core group with an influx of youthful talent from the next generation. But this is also a proud, talented group with one of the best all-around centers in the NHL in Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner and future Hall of Fame defenseman in Zdeno Chara, a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate and in-his-prime All-Star left winger in Brad Marchand, an emerging 20-year-old offensive superstar in David Pastrnak and a former Vezina Trophy winning goaltender still in his prime in Tuukka Rask.

That doesn’t even mention high-end players David Krejci, David Backes and Torey Krug that are game-changing talents in their own right.

Combine that with the other players on the Bruins roster and this is a team interspersed with proud Stanley Cup winning players and enough talent to still take care of business in the final eight games and punch their playoff ticket. Winning a Cup in 2011 can never be taken away from Chara, Krejci, Bergeron, Marchand, Rask and Adam McQuaid, and neither can the seven straight seasons in the playoffs under Claude Julien.

But there’s a danger now of some late-in-the-game tarnish on Black and Gold legacies for some of those distinguished, proud players if they once again collapse down the stretch this season and miss the playoffs for the third year in a row with a late-season nosedive. Four consecutive regulation losses have cast doubt into everything for the Bruins and roused all the same old uncomfortable questions from the past three years.

Bergeron and Marchand need to find their best games and dominate the way elite players do in big-game situations like Saturday night vs. the Isles. Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo and Frank Vatrano need to show they're ready for the playoffs.Rask needs to finally show he's ready to shine as a No. 1 goalie and lead his team to victory in a big game rather than buckle under weighty pressure. 

“This is their legacy, those guys. They are Stanley Cup champions and they missed last year. Each year we talk about writing our own story, and I believe that because guys come and go,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “But generally there is a core group of guys and it’s their legacy. I’m sure they want to reach the playoffs and get back to being a Stanley Cup contender every year.

“That’s what they want and to a man I’m sure they would tell you that. I do believe that they believe it’s different [this season]. Until you change the course of your results, those questions are going to come. We have to change the results to make then go away. One week of not getting results that we want doesn’t mean we’re panicking, but we do understand what’s at stake. We want to be playing in April and May.”

If the Bruins can’t pull out a win on Saturday night against the Islanders, who just pushed even with them at 82 points on the season, then their playoff lives will no longer be under their own control anymore. It will become another late-season choke job by a team that will have its character and courage questioned. The highs of six years ago will be matched by the bitter lows of the past three seasons.

People won’t talk about a scrappy, little underdog Bruins team that just couldn’t get over the hump once again. Instead, they’ll lament a formerly proud, tough-minded group of hockey players that somehow turned into NHL tomato cans all too willing to play the victim once the going got tough late in the regular season.

That’s no way to go out if you’ve ever had your name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the Bruins that know better should be taking that to heart right now.