Shawn Thornton did the crime, and he’s now done his time — and he couldn’t be more excited.
The Bruins forward served the final game of his 15-game suspension on Thursday night and is eligible to return to the Boston lineup on Saturday night in San Jose. If he’s inserted back into the lineup against the Sharks, it will mark Thornton’s first game action since his incident with Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik in a game on Dec. 7.
Naturally, Thonton is excited to get back to work, especially after spending the last month as a bit of an afterthought. He’s remained around the team and has practiced with the club during his suspension, but obviously nothing compares to playing in games.
“It’s been a long, long, long time,” Thornton said, according to the Boston Herald. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bitching, like I’m the victim here, but five weeks is a long time not to be playing. I’m looking forward to [Saturday], to hopefully play and start moving forward, focusing on the tasks ahead and not on the past.”
It will be interesting to see how quickly Thornton is able to get back into the swing of things. The enforcer promises that he won’t change his game, despite the long ban.
“I’ll be back to the way I played 500-plus regular-season and however many playoff games,” Thornton told the Herald. “I crossed the line; it wasn’t the norm for me, and I’ll try not to ever do that again. I think the way I carried myself before is fine and I’ll go back to that.
“That means play within the lines, protect my teammates, fight when I have to, hopefully provide some productive minutes, create some energy and some chances, play physical and hard. I don’t think any of that changes because I made one mistake.”
Thornton may not necessarily have his spot in the lineup waiting for him come Saturday night. Forward Justin Florek, who was recalled on Jan. 4 to make his NHL debut against Winnipeg, has been really effective in his first three NHL games. The big-bodied winger also scored his first career goal and was one of the Bruins’ most effective players in a Thursday night loss to the Kings.