BOSTON, MA – Shawn Thornton may be the most well-respected Boston Bruin. On Thursday night, during the Black & Gold’s uncharacteristic, 7-4, loss to the Buffalo Sabres, everyone saw why.
Coming into the game, it was expected that the contest would get physical, in part because of highly talked about Sabres’ acquisitions of enforcer John Scott and agitator Steve Ott, plus the possibility that Buffalo would still be looking to exact revenge for Milan Lucic’s hit on goalie Ryan Miller last season.
The game was not as physical as expected, but just 2:53 into the game, Thornton answered the bell. Scott, who has six inches and 53 pounds on the 6-foot-2, 217-pound Thornton, challenged No. 22 off the faceoff.
Thornton - a skilled boxer - has, perhaps, never been as overwhelmed in a fight as he was tonight, due to the size difference. Scott landed five or six solid punches on Thornton, as he was leveraged into the glass, and No. 22 didn't get too many chances to spar.
After serving his five-minute fighting major in the box, Thornton went directly to the dressing room and did not return.
Head Coach Claude Julien said following the game, on Thornton’s condition, that “We’ll know more tomorrow. He’s being evaluated, until we get a definite answer, nothing more.”
Julien disagreed with any assumption that the fight deflated the B’s.
“No not really, I mean you know that’s just part of the game,” he said following the loss. “Scott did his job, that’s his job for them and Shawn [Thornton] did his job for us. Those things happen, you win some, you lose some. But at the same time I don’t think it deflated our team. We were in the lead 3-1 there half way through the second so it didn’t do anything in that way.”
Understandably, the Bruins locker room was quiet following the game following the loss, and many of Thornton’s teammates expressed their concern for his health.
Brad Marchand told media surrounding him that the team was worried about Thornton during the game, but tried to go out and win the game for him.
“Anytime a guy doesn’t return back to the lineup you’re obviously worried about him, and we’re all hoping he’s okay,” said Marchand, who scored two goals. “We want to go to bat for him. He really did a great job out there. Scott’s just a huge guy and Thorty did a great job.
“We really wanted to go to bat for him and make sure we responded. I think we did that in the second, but didn’t finish well.”
Milan Lucic called Thornton a “tough guy,” saying he knows the winger will be back as soon as he can.
“He’s been a great team guy here for the last six years,” said No. 17. “He takes a lot of pride in what he does, sticking up for himself and his teammates. He’s a great team guy and he’s an important person to this hockey club.”
Scott said he spoke with Thornton prior to the fight, but wouldn’t divulge what was said. He checked with the Sabres’ trainers during the game to find out if Thornton was okay.
“I was asking the trainers how he’s doing,” said Scott, who played just 4:28 and racked up seven penalty minutes. “You never want to hurt somebody. I was kind of concerned after the first period, we never saw him again. Hopefully he’s doing well, you hate to see someone leave the game like that.
“He will bounce back, he’s a tough guy and he’ll probably fight me again....and probably do a lot better next time.”
The birthday boy, Tyler Seguin, said that Thornton “will do anything that it takes for this team,” even if that means taking on a much larger opponent in a fight.
“Obviously, Thorty can fight,” said Seguin, who tallied an assist in the game. “He’s a tough guy, but you’ve still got to look at Scott, he’s not a small guy. I wasn’t too sure if he was going to fight him, but that’s the type of guy he is.
“He makes sure no one else has to do the job.”
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