Looking back and ahead: Shawn Thornton
|05.21.12 at 6:32 pm ET|
With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.
2011-12 stats: 81 games played, 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points, minus-7
Contract status: signed through 2013-14 season ($1.1 million cap hit)
Looking back: The Bruins’ fourth-line enforcer was coming off a career year (10 goals, 10 assists) as he entered the 2011-12 season, and he returned with his usual linemates of Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell.
Thornton’s offensive production wasn’t nearly what it was a season ago, but after failing to reach the 10 goal plateau until he was 33, the expectation wasn’t exactly for him to produce 10 goals a season. The expectation for him was to serve his role as a fourth-line energy player and to drop the gloves to help swing the game’s momentum in the Bruins’ favor. In the case of the latter, Thornton came through big time, tying Brandon Prust for the league lead in fighting majors with 20.
Thornton dropped the gloves with many of his common dance partners this season (Eric Boulton, whom he fought for the eighth time in his career, Krys Barch twice, Jody Shelly, etc.), but one of the Bruins heavyweight’s more interesting bouts of the season came when he squared off with former longtime Bruin Mark Stuart on Jan. 10 after the Jets defenseman threw him down at the end of a play. Thornton won the battle of similarly sized former teammates in a game the Bruins would go on to win.
When the playoffs rolled around, the Bruins were forced to scratch Thornton in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Capitals. The scratch was more out of necessity than performance, as the B’s needed to get Jordan Caron into the lineup in case the injured Patrice Bergeron had to leave either of the two final games.
Looking ahead: Thornton was one of many Bruins set to become unrestricted free agents in the offseason, but the team took care of him by giving him a two-year extension worth $1.1 million annually.
While it is far from big money and keeps him as one of the Bruins’ lowest-paid players, Thornton’s new pact means that for the first time in his career, he will be paid at least $1 million in a season for the first time in his career. He made $800,000 last season and $825,000 in 2010-11 as part of a two-year deal that had an $812,500 cap hit and $25,000 signing bonus.
While anything close to a repeat of Thornton’s 2010-11 season offensively would be a pleasant surprise for the Bruins and make him a steal at his cost, the B’s shouldn’t be counting on Thornton to be a source of scoring. They should count on him to police the ice, get shots on net and keep the puck in the offensive zone. If history is any indication, he shouldn’t let them down. What you’ve seen is what you’re likely to get with Shawn Thornton.