|Shawn Thornton sad to leave, grateful for time with Bruins||06.16.14 at 7:27 pm ET|
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.”
|Bruins report card: Forwards||06.10.14 at 4:15 pm ET|
As the Stanley Cup finals take place, the fact that the Bruins didn’t even reach the Eastern Conference finals after winning the Presidents’ Trophy further accentuates the failure that was their 2013-14 season. Here are the individual grades:
Patrice Bergeron: A
Regular season: 80 GP, 30 G, 32 A, 62 PTS, plus-38
Postseason: 12 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 PTS, plus-1
Bergeron had the type of season that led Twitter to be insufferable over his candidacy for a video game cover, so that’s a good thing, I guess. This was Bergeron’s second career 30-goal season, and the fact that he scored 30 goals given that he never, ever cheats offensively, was pretty insane. He likely would have had more points than his 62 points had his linemates been more consistent early on.
Bergeron had nine points (three goals, six assists) over the first eight games of the playoffs, but he failed to register a point in the last four games against the Canadiens.
Jarome Iginla: A-
Regular season: 78 GP, 30 G, 31 A, 61 PTS, plus-34
Postseason: 12 GP, 5 G, 2 A, 7 PTS, even rating
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT
He hit 30 goals in the regular season, and while that thrilled Bruins fans, that’s what they should have expected from him. It took him a bit to start scoring regularly, but once he hit his stride, the Bruins’ first line had perhaps its most consistent regular season since David Krejci became the team’s No. 1 center. The Bruins will want to bring him back, but there’s no telling whether Iginla is willing to go year-to-year given that it’s the only way the Bruins can capitalize cap-wise on his status as a player over 35 years old.
Carl Soderberg: A-
Regular season: 73 GP, 16 G, 32 A, 48 P, plus-4
Postseason: 12 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, plus-4
It’s probably too early take positives from the season and apply them going forward, but Soderberg showed he can be one of the league’s better third-liners since he was moved to center. Considering Bergeron and David Krejci aren’t going anywhere, that’s where Soderberg will remain. He has one year left on his deal with a $1.083 million cap hit. If the 28-year-old takes another step forward in his second full NHL season, he’ll be due a sizable raise.
Reilly Smith: A-
Regular season: 82 GP, 20 G, 31 A, 51 PTS, plus-28
Postseason: 12 GP, 4 G, 1 A, 5 PTS, plus-5
RESTRICTED FREE AGENT
Don’t confuse his midseason slump with a complete collapse; Smith was one of the Bruins’ best players in the postseason. With even a little consistency down the stretch in the regular season, this would be an A+.
The Bruins coveted Smith when it came time to talk trade with the Stars, and they planned on him being a steady third-liner for them this season, but he claimed the second-line right wing job and raced out to a team-leading 18 goals in his first 52 games. Of course, scoring just two goals over the final 30 games wasn’t exactly top-six material. How much of that can be attributed to his midseason illness that caused him to lose weight is unknown, but with more consistency Smith can expect to push for 30 goals going forward.
Milan Lucic: B-
Regular season: 80 GP, 24 G, 35 A, 59 PTS, plus-30
Postseason: 12 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 PTS, plus-3
Lucic hit a goal-scoring rut in the middle of the season and he hit some of his opponents in the you-know-whats late in the season. That scoring slump saw Lucic score one goal over an 18-game stretch from Dec. 5 to Jan. 14, and without such a stretch Lucic could have pushed for 30 goals.
Daniel Paille: B-/C+
Regular season: 72 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 PTS, plus-9
Postseason: 7 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PT, minus-1
He had three concussions this season, but he still played in 72 regular-season games. Paille’s the type of player who could figure to stick around if the Bruins decide to revamp their fourth line, as he has the speed that’s allowed the B’s to move him up in the lineup at points in addition to his penalty-killing duties.
Gregory Campbell: C
Regular season: 82 GP, 8 G, 13 S, 21 PTS, plus-1
Postseason: 12 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, even rating
The Bruins’ bottom-six – particularly their fourth line — is supposed to be better than that of other teams, and it was a bad year for the Merlot Line. Campbell was a minus-3 in the Montreal series, with his line on the ice for the disastrous shift against Montreal’s fourth line in Game 7 that resulted in Dale Weise‘s first-period goal. The positive is that Campbell played all 82 games and 12 postseason games coming off a broken leg that ended last season in the Eastern Conference finals for him. Read the rest of this entry »
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Jarome Iginla likely will ‘want to stay in Boston’||05.22.14 at 2:15 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the upcoming offseason for the Bruins and the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Bruins will enter this offseason with 11 free agents (five unrestricted, six restricted). One of Boston’s biggest decisions over the coming months will be what to do with Jarome Iginla, who is set to hit the open market. Iginla tied for the team lead in goals with 30 and fit in perfectly with Boston’s first line of Milan Lucic and David Krejci.
However, concerns have been raised over both Iginla’s age (he will turn 37 on July 1) and the price that it would take to bring the future Hall of Famer back.
“The last time I talked to Jarome was right before Game 7 and I thought he was doing great. He just loves being in Boston,” McGuire said. “He really enjoyed his teammates, really enjoyed playing with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, so that’s No. 1. No. 2, I think that you can get him signed to a deal, and I think the Bruins probably want to get him signed to a deal. He did a really good job. There will be a marketplace for him, but I have to think he’ll want to stay in Boston.”
Another difficult decision this summer will revolve around the whether or not to bring back Shawn Thornton, who has been a mainstay on the Merlot line for seven season in Boston.
“A team like Calgary would definitely have interest [in Thornton]. You have to have a previous relationship with a player like Shawn to know his actual value to the organization, especially behind closed doors. So I think that’s something that plays to Shawn’s favor,” McGuire said. “But I would caution Shawn on this. He’s had a tremendous career. He’s made a lot out of nothing because he’s worked so hard to get there. … He’s a Bostonian.
“Even though he’s from Ontario and he’s played for a lot of other teams, he’s a Boston guy. He’s a Boston Bruin. That’s how he should be remembered. I just hope he wouldn’t do it as a short-term deal, because I don’t think he has more than another year left to play. I would hate to see him leave and not be remembered as Boston Bruin, because that’s what he is.”
|Peter Chiarelli unsure Bruins will retain Shawn Thornton||05.16.14 at 6:45 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton‘s future with the Bruins is murky at best, as he was not told that he wouldn’t be re-signed Friday, but Peter Chiarelli did not tell him the team plans to retain him.
Thornton, a free agent, wants to play another two years. His preference is to play in Boston, so the sense is that if the Bruins will have him back, he’ll return. If they don’t want him, he won’t. Chiarelli told Thornton that he needs to look at some things before he decides whether the team will make him an offer.
“Thorty I thought had a kind of up and down year,” Chiarelli said. “He got, obviously, the incident with Pittsburgh and you know, there’s trends in hockey and the fisticuffs trend — again, this doesn’t characterize Thorty as just a fighter because he contributed on that [fourth] line.
“That line has had a lot of success in the past, but there is definitely, we’re trending away from that style. I had a discussion with Thorty this morning and I said, ‘Look, give me a couple weeks to digest what’s happened and then we’ll go from there.’ That same comment applies to [Jarome Iginla]. I haven’t talked to the other [unrestricted free agents] yet but to Iggy and Thorny so far.”
Iginla is a free agent as well. He played this season on a one-year deal in which the Bruins were able to pay him bonuses that will go against next year’s cap in order to save money on this year’s cap. The team can keep doing that on Iginla, but only on one-year deals.
Iginla, who tied for the team lead with 30 goals in the regular season and led the team with five postseason goals, said he does not wish to negotiate publicly, so he was generally tight-lipped about what he wants. He did say that at age 36, he still feels he can play a while longer.
“I still want to play for a while before I quit. I’ll push myself to be better and there are no issues,” he said. “I loved playing here with the guys and there’s a great chance for next year for the Stanley Cup. They keep getting better with the young guys that they have, Dougie [Hamilton] and [Matt Bartkowski]. The core is still young. There’s lots of reasons. Very fortunate if I can be back here.”
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the B’s season-ending loss to Montreal in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series, as well as his future in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Canadiens broke through with the game’s first goal from Dale Weise just 2:18 into what was generally considered an ugly opening period for the Bruins in their 3-1 loss Wednesday. Thornton was on the ice for the goal.
“That goal against 2 1/2 minutes in, kind of, didn’t take the passion away, but they’re a good team,” Thornton said. “They’re a tough team to battle back against. We can’t give them that goal. It was a bunch of errors that led up to it, but it was Game 7, you don’t want to be battling from behind 2 1/2 minutes into the game.”
Thornton said the locker room was quiet after the game and that he’s still in disbelief over the outcome.
“We’re just disappointed. We’re still in shock, I think. We planned on winning it,” he said. “We planned on going until the end, winning it all. We’re just as in shock as everyone else, if not more.”
Asked to rank the most significant factors in the series, Thornton put the play of goaltender Carey Price, who made 29 saves in Game 7 to cap off an impressive seven-game stretch, and the Canadiens’ role players ahead of Montreal’s speed and quickness.
“I don’t think [speed and quickness] was the reason,” Thornton said. “We didn’t bury enough of our chances. We had ample opportunities to bury it. … A little bit of puck luck, a little bit of timing and I think it could’ve been different, but it wasn’t. They won, they move on. We don’t, we drown in our sorrows.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘My teammates always are with me’||05.13.14 at 10:43 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, after Monday’s disappointing 4-0 loss to the Canadiens in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Canadiens grabbed the lead when the Bruins misplayed a puck near the net and Lars Eller made them pay just 2:11 into the game.
“That first goal, two minutes in, we’re down by one with a very gratuitous bounce to them, then you’re battling back again,” Thornton said. “I felt like we were ready to go. I thought our first three shifts, we applied a lot of pressure, then that goal happens, they kind of picked the momentum up from there.
“I don’t know how many chances we had last night, but I felt like we had a lot of offensive-zone time, I felt like we had a lot of chances. Like [Milan Lucic] said, nine times out of 10 he buries that [shot he missed on an open net], and it’s 1-1 instead of being 2-0. Some things like that contributed to them winning last night. We’ve got to fight through that and bring it tomorrow.”
The teams will meet in Game 7 on Wednesday night in Boston.
“We’ve been there a lot in the last seven years that I’ve been here,” Thornton said. “You have to get your mindset in a place where you’re not squeezing your stick, but you know that every shift could be the deciding factor in whether you’re playing next week or sitting at home.
“I like that we have a group that’s been there a bunch now. That’s no guarantee, but I think we have a good, core group of guys that knows how to approach these games, and the coaching staff knows how to approach these games.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Montreal doesn’t have an answer for Carl Soderberg’||05.12.14 at 2:57 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Bruins and Canadiens. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Bruins took a 3-2 series lead on Saturday by defeating the Canadiens by a score of 4-2 in Game 5 at TD Garden. Four skaters scored for Boston, while Tukka Rask recorded 31 saves in the contest.
“The Boston Bruins played a tremendous game. They had a good start, they had tremendous supplemental offense from the third line, which Montreal doesn’t have an answer for, with Carl Soderberg, Matt Fraser and obviously Loui Eriksson,” McGuire said. ‘Their penalty killing was very solid until the P.K. Subban ripper.
“I thought, quite frankly, that it was Boston playing a very good game and Montreal not playing up to their normal level because Boston didn’t allow it.”
Soderberg was particularly impressive in Boston’s last game, scoring his first goal of the postseason and adding two assists in the win. McGuire said that Soderberg’s size and playmaking ability has caused problems for Montreal throughout this series.
“As a smaller team, Montreal doesn’t have an answer for Carl Soderberg,” McGuire said. “If you’re going to win a series, you need to have an X-factor player — someone that doesn’t get canceled out. The X-factor player so far in this series has been Carl Soderberg.”
Added McGuire: “Montreal doesn’t have an answer size-wise and skilled-wise for the depth of the Boston Bruins lineup. That’s the biggest issue that’s haunting them.”
Boston has the tall task of eliminating Montreal in the Habs’ home, the Bell Centre. The Canadiens posted a 23-13-5 record during the regular season and sit at 3-1 this postseason when playing in the friendly confines of their home arena.
“[The Bruins are] a different team when they play here,” McGuire said. “They play a much smarter brand in terms of penalty management. … They play a more physical, attacking style in Boston, they’re really comfortable playing and they want to provide that for their fans. When they go on the road, they want to take the crowd out of it and I thought they did a really great job in Game 4 in taking the crowd out of it and taking P.K. Subban out of it.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more on the Bruins, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.
On the potential return of Dennis Seidenberg in the Eastern Conference finals: “I had a really nice visit with Dennis on Saturday night before the game. I would say that there’s a very good chance, if the Bruins were to progress, that he would be back for that next round.”
On what Matt Fraser has brought to the third line over the last two games: “[He brings] better board play and the ability to maintain a cycle and dominate the defense and put duress on Carey Price because of that cycle play. … He can shoot the puck. He can shoot the puck from in tight and elevate it or he can shoot the puck from about 20 feet and get it there with a lot of velocity, so that makes a difference.”
On Shawn Thornton spraying Subban with water during Game 5: “As soon as the play was blown dead, I saw that [Subban] was angry and that there was some water on his visor. … Obviously, it was Shawn. He pays a price, he pays the fine. … I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, quite frankly.”
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