|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘We like the group we have’||03.05.14 at 11:01 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about the NHL trade deadline, his 100th fight and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
With the NHL trade deadline looming, Thornton said that there hasn’t been as much discussion in the locker room because of the Olympic break.
“We haven’t really talked about it much this year,” Thornton said. “I think because there hasn’t been a lot of chatter with the Olympics, it took a lot of focus away from the deadline. Usually there’s a two-week buildup to it, to be completely honest. This year you came out of the Olympics six days later. So there hasn’t been a lot of talk.”
Thornton likes the team and is fine with the way it is, but he knows there could be players traded by Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline.
“We’re a pretty good team, but I know that Peter [Chiarelli] is always looking to improve,” Thornton said. “And you can always get better, so we’ll see what happens by 3 today.”
Added Thornton: “We all really like each other, we like the group we have. We’re a pretty tight-knit group. We’re still winning some hockey games this year, so I’m OK with it.”
During Tuesday night’s 4-1 victory over the Panthers, Thornton got into his 100th career fight. The fight with Krys Barch was initiated to spark the team and stick up for Milan Lucic, who fought Barch in the first period.
“We were kind of flat in the second period,” Thornton said. “Looch can handle himself, obviously, but I didn’t like that he went after Looch in the first shift. Krys Barch is a, he’s a really good guy. I played with him. … I actually kind of taught him how to fight 11 years ago in the minors.”
The Bruins’ top line of David Krejci, Jarome Iginla and Lucic performed very well on Tuesday with Krejci recording a hat trick and Iginla scoring the fourth goal. Thornton noted that the trio is unlike any other in the NHL.
“We rely heavily on those guys and they consistently perform,” Thornton said. “And it’s funny because if there’s one game where they don’t get a point it’s like the sky’s falling. Everyone’s chirping. They’ve been unbelievable for us all year. … They bring things to the table that other teams don’t have. You don’t have two power forwards that are that tough and score.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: Bruins want to ‘ride into this two-week break on a high’||02.05.14 at 1:44 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about Tuesday night’s game against the Canucks, coaching in the NHL and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Thornton was pleased with winning on Tuesday, but he said that the usual intensity for the rivalry wasn’t there.
“It’s been a couple of years,” Thornton said, referring to the Bruins’ win in the Stanley Cup finals in 2011. “They’re coming off back-to-back games, too. [The Canucks] just played in Detroit, so maybe not as much of an energy level for them, and I think they had lost three or four in a row, too. Think they have their own stuff going on internally.”
Despite the Canucks’ off night, Thornton said the Bruins did what they do best.
“We’re more focused on what we do, but it might have taken from it a little bit,” Thornton said. “When you’re up by a couple goals to start, I guess really running around and creating the emotion, you could be playing with fire. … You’re in control of the game, you just want to keep control of the game the way it is.”
With the win against the Canucks, the Bruins have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Thornton credits focus as a big reason for their success.
“Yeah, things are going well,” Thornton said. “We kind of broke it down about 10 games before the Olympic break that we wanted to ride into this two-week break on a high, and I think we’ve done a good job of that for the last seven, eight games. That’s still our goal, we’re pretty good at not looking at the long-term board, just taking it game to game and sometimes segment to segment.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘I’m back to the way I was before’ suspension||01.22.14 at 3:28 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about Canucks coach John Tortorella and his suspension, his own suspension and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Tortorella was suspended 15 days for attempting to enter the Flames locker room after the first period of Saturday’s game, angry that Flames coach Bob Hartley started his fourth line. Tortorella responded with his fourth line, initiating a line brawl right after the opening puck drop.
While the former Rangers coach has come under criticism, Thornton said Tortorella deserves credit for standing up for his team.
“I love the that he always has his players’ back,” Thornton said. “This has happened a few times with him, and it’s happened a few times in the league. Obviously the instance with him going down to the locker room probably makes it a lot more blown out of proportion, but this stuff happens.”
That said, Thornton said he isn’t sure Hartley’s intent was to have his fourth-line players mix it up.
“I don’t think that — and I don’t know because I’m not in the room — but I’m assuming when Hartley started his fourth line he wasn’t planning on a line brawl, he was just trying to start a line to get, maybe create some forecheck and then dump pucks in, get some momentum going for his team,” Thornton said. “We do it sometimes, too.”
Added Thornton: “You can start whoever you want. We [the B's fourth line] used to start all the time, probably two or three years ago. Our line started all the time. It was more to create momentum, not to drop the gloves.”
Thornton, who was suspended on Dec. 14 for 15 games after attacking Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, says the suspension and league crackdown on violence hasn’t forced him to alter his style.
“I’m back to the way I was before. Nothing’s changed,” Thornton said. “If I need to stick up for a teammate, I’ll stick up for a teammate. That hasn’t changed.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘Now I go back to playing the way I played the last 600 games’||01.02.14 at 10:04 am ET|
Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning for the first time since receiving a 15-game suspension last month, and the Bruins enforcer acknowledged he “messed up” and is eagerly awaiting his return to the team on Jan. 11. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Thornton was punished for grabbing Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, pulling him down and punching him during a game on Dec. 7. Orpik was knocked out and had to miss eight games while recovering from the concussion.
It was the first suspension of Thornton’s career, and he hopes it won’t affect his reputation.
“I messed up. I know that,” Thornton said. “I talked about it the other day: I’m not going to let it define me. It’s a mistake I made after 600 games playing right on the line. To be completely honest, doing my job is not an easy one, as far as riding the line.
“It’s tough to talk about because I know I messed up, but I plan on playing a couple more years and playing within the rules. The outcome wasn’t was expected, either. A very unfortunate set of circumstances, why I messed up, it can happen. Yeah, the money sucks, the games really suck. But I’m going to put it behind me now and move on.”
Thornton said he was limited in how much he can discuss the appeal process, but he made it clear he still believes the suspension that league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan handed out — and commissioner Gary Bettman backed upon appeal — was too long.
“It’s tough for me to talk about, because we’re legally not allowed. There’s a provision in our CBA that I can’t really bad-mouth the decision,” Thornton said. “But I definitely thought that 15 was a little excessive. How many games? I don’t know. It’s not my job. And I know it’s not an easy job to assess those things. But I thought that being the lengthiest suspension he’s ever handed out was a little bit much for my first-time offense, I guess.”
|Shawn Thornton not taking appeal to independent arbitrator||12.31.13 at 12:12 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins forward Shawn Thornton will not appeal his 15-game suspension to a neutral arbitrator.
Thornton’s suspension for attacking Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7 was upheld by commissioner Gary Bettman last week, with Thornton having seven days to take the appeal to an independent arbitrator. Thornton has served 10 of his 15 games thus far and will be eligible to return to the lineup Jan. 11 in San Jose.
“I’m still not happy with the amount of games I got,” Thornton said. “I know I’m not a victim, but I’m not happy with the amount of games I got. But I respect the decision and I’d rather just move on mentally and focus on getting ready for the 11th instead of focusing on getting ready for another hearing.”
With Thornton choosing not to take the process further, there has still been no instances of players appealing suspensions to neutral arbitrators, which is allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement. Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta appealed his 10-game suspension to Bettman in October but also declined to advance the process after his ban was upheld. The decision to not go further was made at the last minute by Thornton, who spent much of Monday night and Tuesday morning weighing his options.
“I’d rather not be a distraction around here. I’d rather focus on getting ready for January 11, which is 12 days out now. I’m not going to lie to you, it wasn’t an easy decision,” Thornton said. “I’ve been thinking about it for the last 36 hours, not much sleep, but I feel for the team it’s probably the right thing to do I guess at this point, not going through the whole process again for a third time.”
Numerous players throughout the league reached out to Thornton during his suspension to offer their support. Among them was Sharks forward Raffi Torres, who has been suspended four times by the league and was banned for a total of 21 games for a postseason hit on Marian Hossa in the 2012 playoffs.
Yet perhaps the most encouraging words Thornton got were from Orpik himself, as the two have been friends and offseason workout partners over the years. Upon returning to practice, Orpik defended Thornton to reporters, saying, “I think he knew he made a mistake and regretted it right away.”
“Well we’ve known each other for a long time,” Thornton said. “I said right after the fact that the outcome was not what was intended and I felt awful about it. That hasn’t changed, and we’ve talked. We talked that night. We were still friends after the fact that night. Talking [to him], that helped me through this a little bit, for sure.”
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|NHL commissioner upholds Shawn Thornton’s 15-game suspension||12.24.13 at 12:39 pm ET|
Thornton, who has missed eight games since the incident, appealed the original decision by NHL senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan that was announced on Dec. 14. He met with the commissioner in New York on Friday, along with his agent, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and three representatives from the NHL Players Association.
The NHLPA argued for a suspension in the range of 10-12 games, noting that Thornton had never previously been suspended and the punishment was not consistent with previous penalties for similar actions.
Wrote Bettman in Tuesday’s announcement: “I have no trouble concluding that a very lengthy suspension is warranted and that the decision to impose a 15-game suspension is supported by clear and convincing evidence. In fact, in light of all the circumstances relating to the underlying conduct, it is certainly possible to argue for a more severe punishment, but I am comfortable relying on Mr. Shanahan’s judgment.”
Added Bettman: “The objective evidence makes it clear to me that Mr. Thornton’s conduct was premeditated and an act of retaliation, and I do not believe that any person with experience in the game could conclude otherwise.”
Thornton, who can appeal the decision to a neutral arbitrator as per the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, will forfeit $85,615 in salary. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
|Former Bruins enforcer Chris Nilan on D&C explains friendship with Whitey Bulger: ‘I’m a loyal person. He was a friend of mine’||12.19.13 at 10:49 am ET|
Former NHL enforcer Chris Nilan joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to talk about his hockey career, his post-NHL addiction issues and his friendship with Whitey Bulger that continues to this day.
Nilan, a product of West Roxbury and Northeastern University, was selected 231st (of 234 players) in the 1978 NHL draft but managed to have a long career with the Canadiens, Rangers and Bruins. He still holds the Canadiens franchise record for penalty minutes in a career (2,248) and season (358). He had 222 fights in his 13 NHL seasons, including 43 in 1985-86 during the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup-winning season.
Following his retirement after the 1991-92 season, Nilan had issues with alcohol and drugs, he was arrested for shoplifting and his 25-year marriage dissolved. Nilan says he has been clean and sober for three years, living with his girlfriend on the West Island of Montreal. He recently wrote a book: “Fighting Back: The Chris Nilan story.”
Nilan, now 55, grew up in Boston in the 1970s and fell in love with hockey while watching the Big, Bad Bruins. He made the NHL as a tough guy but worked to develop his game and ended up averaging 20 goals over two seasons in the mid-1980s. He said the drive he used to get him to the NHL came in handy when he hit rock bottom after his career.
“I had a dream of playing in the NHL one day,” he said. “I think the story somewhat reverts back to the things that — I had my transgressions and my drugs after hockey. Through alcoholism and drug addiction, I kind of reached back and used some of those things that drove me and got me to the National Hockey League to get me sober.”
Nilan said his turning point in his fight against addiction came after he started shooting heroin, something he promised himself he would never do.
“I was wrapped up in that for about eight months,” Nilan said. “And that night, sitting on the toilet, I basically overdosed. I woke up probably three hours later. I stood up and I fell forward and hit my head on the wall and knocked myself out again. And when I woke up from that I had I guess what you’d call the gift of desperation. I knew I needed to get help. I was in such a bad place. I was so beaten down; I beat myself down. I made a phone call and asked for help. It was the best move I ever made. … Clean since. And sober.”
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