BOSTON (CBS) — The Shawn Thornton era in Boston is over.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Monday that the team will not re-sign the veteran winger.
“Today I met with Shawn, and we had a good meeting, and I informed him that we wouldn’t be re-signing him,” Chiarelli said on the Bruins’ official website.
Thornton, 36, is coming off a season in which he scored five goals with three assists while recording 10 fighting majors. Excluding the lockout-shortened season of 2012, it was the lowest total of fighting majors for Thornton since 2005-06, when he played in just 10 NHL games. By comparison, Thornton recorded 20 fighting majors in 2011-12 and 21 in 2009-10.
Chiarelli noted that Thornton was a part of the Bruins’ organization almost since the GM’s own tenure began, and the fourth-line winger was an important piece of the culture change in Boston.
“I told him that he was one of the most significant acquisitions that we made — one, for the role that he played, and two, for the person that he is,” Chiarelli said. “It was nice to rehash his time, it was sad to tell him that he wasn’t coming back. But I wished him well and Shawn was real up front about it. I wished him luck and I’m sure he’ll have success with his next team.”
Thornton said after the Bruins’ second-round elimination this year that he wanted to stay in Boston, but regardless of what happened, he’ll always consider the city to be his home. In a conversation with Dan Roche on Monday, Thornton said those feelings have not changed.
“We’re still going to come back here; this is going to be home in the off-season, as far as I know,” Thornton told Dan Roche.
“We loved it here and for good reason, the last seven years I really got to get a good feeling of what this city is all about and I fell in love with it and we’ll miss it during the season, but we’ll be back during the off-season.”
Chiarelli had hinted at a change on the fourth line after the season, when he mentioned the league-wide trend of fourth lines being built on speed and skill more than just brawn. Still, that doesn’t take away from Thornton’s contributions to the team.
“The role that he played, I thought when he came here, I think his conditioning really went to the next level and he was able to form one-third of maybe the best fourth line in hockey for the longest time,” Chiarelli said. “And of course there’s the pugilistic component of his game, which is an important part. He was very good about that in that it was a job that not a lot of people liked to do, but it was a job that was important. So he came and he thrived and was really a common factor in every year — he contributed, he scored some timely goals, he’s got some surprising skill for what role he brings, and of course he won a Cup with us and went to the Final again.”
Thornton said he is “lucky” to have played in Boston. “It’s been first class all the way and I am very, very, very fortunate to be able to be a part of this organization and a part of this city for the last seven years,” Thornton said.
Thornton made $1.1 million in each of the past two seasons, so the team moving on from him is more indicative in a change of philosophy than it is a salary cap-related change.
“He’ll be missed, it’s a bit of a sad day, but I think Shawn was good,” Chiarelli said. “He embraced it in the time that he spent here, and that’s how we look at it.”
Thornton says he hopes to be playing somewhere next season. “I think I got a couple years left in me,” Thornton told Dan Roche. “I feel really good physically, I’ve been working out for the last two weeks everything feels good, so I got a little bit left in the tank.”
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