Thornton throws a punch at anti-fighting crew


Thornton throws a punch at anti-fighting crew

By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOLTON, MA Shawn Thornton has heard all of the whispered speculation this summer about the three tragic deaths of NHL enforcers since May.

He knows much of the chatter has been crafted around curbing hockey fights in the NHL, and hes got a message to those trying to use the regrettable deaths as ammunition for their anti-fighting propaganda.

Cut the crap or youre going to be answering to him.

It kind of expletive pisses me off that people take this opportunity to try and exploit a certain part of the game, said Thornton. I think those are very, very sad instances, but I also think exploiting them for a part of the game isnt the right way to go.

NHL fighters Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak all died under complicated circumstances this summer. The beastly Boogaard was suffering from some very serious concussion symptoms and had developed an addiction to pain-killers that he was never able to overcome. Rypien had serious issues with depression and his own personal demons that may have contributed to his death. The circumstances behind Belaks death in Toronto last month have never truly been explained in the ensuing weeks.

But it was easy for many to still draw a parallel between the three players and their untimely deaths.

Some immediately assume that a potential cocktail of concussions, drugs and alcohol -- and perhaps even performance-enhancing drugs -- was messing with this particular class of NHL player, and turning them from hockey pugilists into ticking time bombs.

But theres only so much anybody will now know about what was going through the minds of Boogaard, Rypien and Belak directly before their respective deaths.

Never mind the fact that theres no proof in any of these cases that fighting had anything to do with their deaths. People that had already developed their strong anti-fighting agendas were ready to pounce on the deaths like grand-standing politicians after a community tragedy, and those opportunists found this summer of tragedy around the NHL as the perfect opportunity.

There appears to be a special circle in hell that Thornton has envisioned for those cold-hearted hockey pundits, and a simple piece of advice in the end from Bostons resident enforcer.

Thornton has been doing it for 12 seasons of pro hockey, has been in 86 career NHL scraps, and knows a thing of two about what hes talking about. He's also coming off a career year offensively that saw his Bruins win the Stanley Cup, and saw him prove that hes much, much more than a fourth line fighter. Hes also a guy with an enormous heart and his priorities in complete order when it comes to the deaths of his NHL brothers.

So he had another simple message.

I think we should remember those people for the men that they were, and not what they did for a living, said Thornton.

It might be time for the anti-fighting set to find another hockey ambulance to go chasing after because it looks like once again their efforts to manipulate lifes unexpected turns to their own advantage has been noticed and summarily punched into submission by Thornton.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Morning Skate: Larry Robinson parts ways with Sharks

Morning Skate: Larry Robinson parts ways with Sharks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while refraining from shoving any world leaders today.

*Larry Robinson and the San Jose Sharks are parting after working together for five seasons, per FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz.

*Speaking of Kurz, he also has a Sharks mailbag on which players are most likely to be traded out of San Jose during the offseason. Somebody has got to go, and you’d think it would be somebody without much tread left on the tires.

*Moving on to other topics, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler said that losing a Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals to the Nashville Predators was the “toughest” loss of his career. I don’t see how this is possible. You see, Kesler is no slouch at falling short. In fact, he’s a tremendous loser, having dropped a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at home in 2011 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and also having lost a Gold Medal Game for Team USA at the hands of Sidney Crosby and Canada in 2010 in overtime that was also played in Vancouver. It took a simple Google search to find an actual postgame video of Kesler crying into his hockey glove on the bench in the aftermath of Game 7 vs. the Bruins. So, pardon me if I’m not buying Kesler talking about a conference finals loss as the worst of his career when he was one home win away from being a Stanley Cup champion in Game 7, and proceeded to lose like he’s done many, many times in the most important games of his career. Dude, you’ve been through tougher losses. Trust me on that one.  

*The idea of trading Alex Ovechkin might be gaining some traction with the Capitals fan base, but it doesn’t seem to be based on reality at this point.

*The pride of Melrose, Mass, Conor Sheary, delivered in Game 7 for the Penguins as they return to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons.

*Bobby Ryan said his strategy for success in the playoffs, at least in part, was staying off the phone. Maybe he ought to try that a bit more during the regular season.

*Congrats to the folks at NBC for another successful Red Nose Day that featured a reunion of the “Love Actually” cast among other things.