WILMINGTON, Mass. — Shawn Thornton has become a trendsetter, albeit for a trend he'd rather not have anything to do with.
The Bruins' tough guy hopes to be back in the lineup on Wednesday when Boston hosts the New York Islanders. He's missed the last three games after needing over 40 stitches to close a cut on his forehead caused by a skate blade last Tuesday.
"That's coach's decision, but I think we're ready to go," Thornton said after Tuesday's practice. "I'm almost positive I'm ready to go, but nobody's talked to me yet."
Thornton skated in practice Tuesday without a visor, finally shedding the shield he despises. He expected to get the stitches out sometime later Tuesday or during the day on Wednesday. But while his needlework is about to be removed, his old linemate just had some stitches to his own forehead.
Gregory Campbell was sporting about a half dozen new stitches above his right eye on Tuesday after taking a puck on an errant Johnny Boychuk dump-in during Monday's loss to the Rangers in New York. Stitches are all the rage in the Bruins' locker room these days, as Milan Lucic required a few after being hit with a puck in Monday's pregame warm-ups and Nathan Horton recently had two sets of stitches in the same spot above his eye after hitting his head on the ice in a fight with Toronto's Dion Phaneuf, then getting high-sticked by Montreal's Tomas Plekanec.
"I didn't want to leave him hanging," Campbell said of getting some stitches to match Thornton's. "I saw Looch got a couple stitches like Nathan there, so I thought I'd get a few [like Thornton]."
Campbell had no issues with Boychuk shooting the puck off his noggin, noting "it was accidental," and wasn't worried about any potential scars.
"I wasn't good looking anyway, so it's not going to hurt," Campbell said.
Thornton felt a little differently about his cut, which will definitely leave a mark, and wasn't advising anyone else to sport any new stitches.
"No, I do not think scars are cool by any means," Thornton said. "I'm not in agreement with that. I thought I was pretty. So, oh well, not anymore."
When told of Thornton's assessment of his pre-injury looks, Campbell could only laugh. "I don't know about that," Campbell said.
On a more serious note, Campbell admitted that he is very eager to have his old running mate back in action soon.
"He's a big part of our team, he's a big part of our line," Campbell said of Thornton. "He adds a physical presence to our line and he's been really good for us this year. I felt a little naked out there for those three games without him. We've been kind of attached at the hip all year."
In Tuesday's practice, Thornton was back skating with Campbell and Daniel Paille. Michael Ryder, who had skated in Thornton's spot on the fourth line the last three games, rotated in with third liners Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin during the drills.
One of Boston's forwards would have to sit if Thornton is cleared to return on Wednesday, but Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn't ready to make any decisions after Tuesday's practice.
"We'll figure it out [Wednesday]," Julien said. "It hasn't changed. It's day to day. We'll see [Wednesday], make a decision on him whether he's capable of jumping into our lineup or not."
Thornton, who hadn't missed a game this season prior to this injury, is certainly hoping he won't have to wait any longer to return.
"I don't know what's going to happen, obviously it's coach's decision," Thornton said. "But if I'm going [Wednesday] night I'll be very excited."