WILMINGTON, MA – Shawn Thornton knew something wasn’t quite right. The normally astute fighter had taken several hard rights from Buffalo’s John Scott, during the first period of the Bruins’ 7-4 loss to the Sabres on January 31. When Thornton got to the penalty box, he was “not 100 percent” and after serving his five-minute major, he went directly to the dressing room.
The next morning, the team announced that Thornton would be out for 7-10 days due to a concussion.
Thursday marked the seventh day since the enforcer suffered the injury and No. 22 was back on the ice at Ristuccia Arena, skating with a select group of players.
Following the practice, Thornton addressed the media and said he was feeling great. Before he opened it up for questions, he briefed reporters on his current situation.
“[I’m] cleared for practice, cleared for contact, haven’t been given any word on what’s going on this weekend yet [games against Tampa Bay and Buffalo],” Thornton said. “I feel good. I’ve felt good all week, I’m happy to be where I’m at right now.”
“That probably answers all your questions, actually,” Thornton joked.
But there were plenty more questions for the fourth-liner, including whether he thinks there should be revenge against Scott when the Bruins travel to Buffalo on Sunday night. Thornton was not too keen on the suggestion that Zdeno Chara should step up and fight Scott in Thornton’s defense.
“God, no. No, no,” Thornton exclaimed when he was asked about Chara fighting Scott. “Zee’s our best player and arguably the best defenseman in the league, there’s no reason for him to have to fight my battles.
“I’ve done this for a long time, it’s on me. It’s my job to make sure that I’m available for that, so it’s not one of our star players that has to do it. That’s part of my job and I accept it fully.
“Plus, if I knocked [Scott] out, I wasn’t expecting somebody to come grab me the next shift. That’s part of it, we’re both men, it happens.”
According to hockeyfights.com, Thornton has fought 195 times between both the AHL and NHL since the start of the 2002-03 season – his first year in the NHL. Thornton estimates that he has fought nearly 400 times including juniors, and can only remember two other times in which he suffered a concussion.
“Yeah, it was a while ago though,” Thornton said when asked if had suffered a concussion before. “I think it was my first NHL fight, actually, Eric Boulton dropped me. I had a grade one and the other one before that I think I was 17 in junior, maybe. I think that’s it.”
When asked if he was surprised that he had only suffered a couple of concussions, considering his line of work, Thornton got superstitious.
“Do I have to knock on wood now?” Thornton asked smiling. “I guess I got a thick head and not much in it. No, definitely lucky in the line of work. I’ve said that before this even happened, people ask me all the time. I’m very fortunate, or maybe I’m just good at what I do.
“You punch each other in the face for a minute straight, you’re bound to get tapped every now and again.”
"I think [fighting is] a necessary part of the game. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I’m a big boy, I know what I’m getting into.”
Should Thornton suit up at some point this weekend, he will be ready to jump into the ring, so to speak, if needed. He says the fight against Scott was just about getting hit in the perfect spot at the perfect time and nothing that anyone should worry about.
“I got hit behind the ear, my legs went out from underneath me,” Thornton explained. “I’ve talked to some other people that have done this, not just in hockey, but in other walks of life, UFC guys and stuff. You get hit back there, it happens.
“I’m not going to say it was lucky, but a lot of things had to happen for me to even get hit there. My helmet got slid over because he had a grab on my earpiece. I saw the punches coming, I twisted my head to try and get away and he hit me in the little soft spot behind the ear.
“It was a good shot. If it hits me on the top of the head, we’re not having this conversation.”
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