WILMINGTON, Mass. –- Hockey players are a superstitious lot, so it's pretty unusual to see them making any radical changes in the midst of a win streak.
But hockey players are also usually the first athletes to step up to support a worthy cause and give back to the community. So even though the Bruins have won three straight for the first time since December, it's no real surprise that the bulk of the team would be willing to change things up in a big way on Wednesday.
That's when Shawn Thornton and 16 of his Bruins teammates will have their heads shaved to raise money for children battling cancer at the fifth annual Cuts for a Cause at Royale in Boston. All of the money raised at the event will be donated through the Boston Bruins Foundation and will benefit Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center's Child Life Services Activities, Shooting Stars and Very Important Brothers and Sisters programs.
So the bulk of the Bruins will look a little different when they take the ice Thursday against the Washington Capitals. But how different? The leader of the cause did put some limits on his own trim, with Thornton vowing not to go all the way down to his battered scalp with a disposable razor.
"I'm not Bic-ing it," Thornton said after practice at Ristuccia Arena before heading over to the event. "I've got too many scars on my head from being punched to be able to do that. I'd be bleeding all over the place. Nobody wants to see that. But I'll take it short."
Teammate Chris Kelly wasn't worried about how much of his hair gets taken off.
"As low as they'll want to cut it," Kelly said. "My hair is nothing to savor, so I don't mind getting it cut. It's for a great cause too, so I'm sure I'll look a little different tomorrow."
Of course, Thornton did have to throw a jab at his buddy by noting that some of the Bruins were in it just for the free haircut.
"I know some guys that are just starving for a free haircut, so they couldn't wait for today," Thornton joked.
When pressed on who might fall into that category, Thornton offered, "Just Chris Kelly." But he couldn’t keep a straight face for long, adding while laughing, "No, I'm just messing around."
That didn't stop Kelly from firing back, though.
"I think Shawn still has some of his per diem from his first training camp," Kelly said. "If he's suggesting I'm cheap, then the pot's calling the kettle black there."
Kelly has become a popular guy in the Bruins room in his first full season with the team, earning the respect of his peers and being named an alternate captain. But he's also been a popular target for friendly barbs from the likes of Thornton and Brad Marchand, who frequently jokes about Kelly on his regular radio appearances. The unflappable Kelly doesn't mind the attention, though.
"I guess two guys that constantly need the media attention need to speak about me," Kelly said with a smile. "Who loves Brad more than Brad? I like when they talk about me. It's nice, let's other people know I'm still on the team. They're doing me a favor."
And on Wednesday, Thornton had Kelly's back, with a final crack about Marchand's hair.
"Whatever Marshy's been growing for the last little bit, I think we'll be doing him a favor by shaving that off," Thornton said.
On a more serious note, Thornton added that not only does Cuts for a Cause give the Bruins a chance to do something to help a worthwhile charity, but it's also an opportunity to bring the team even closer together.
"Three-quarters of the team having their heads shaved at the same time, it's kind of a bonding experience," Thornton said.