Shawn Thornton  is holding no grudges after Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told him Monday that the team would not be offering him a contract for next season.
Reflecting on his seven-year tenure with the Bruins, Thornton was more proud than anything else as he began to look ahead to the next and perhaps final stop of his NHL  career.
“I was very lucky and very fortunate to be part of this city and organization for the last seven years,” Thornton said. “My first thought is I’m very appreciative of them keeping me around for seven years and [letting me] have the role that I’ve played here.
“They’ve been first-class from Day 1, when Cam [Neely] called me convincing me that this would be a good fit for me, to even today, Peter giving me a face-to-face meeting and a heads up before free agency that I wasn’t coming back. Everything in between was amazing. I’m very lucky and very thankful that I got treated so well when I was here.”
Thornton said he estimated his chances of being brought back as a ‘coin flip’ when Chiarelli told him at breakup day last month that he needed time to determine the team’s plan. The 36-year-old (he’ll be 37 next month) wants to play at least another season, and he’ll meet with teams to determine the best fit going forward.
Physically, Thornton said he feels better now than he did going into the season, as he dealt with some injuries that hindered his workouts last offseason.
As for the notion that the league is trending away from players like him, Thornton acknowledged that the Bruins have young forwards who are NHL-ready, but also said that fighting is far from extinct in the NHL .
“Obviously the league is trending away from it. You can tell. There’s no secret,” Thornton said. “It started when they put visors in and it’s just continuing on, but I think we’re all in agreement that the puck’s not going to drop next year on Oct. 7 and everyone’s going to be skating around with their gloves on all the time.
“I think it’ll probably start to be phased out eventually, but it’s around for the next couple of years at least. I see the point that’s being made, but I think it will still be here. On the other side, I think that one of the reasons I’ve had success and have been able to stick around as long as I have is that I bring more to the table than just the fighting. I think I can actually play hockey, too.”