Shawn Thornton thought he had a decision to make. Luckily for him, the Boston Bruins took that decision out of his hands, and the enforcer doesn’t sound like he has any hard feelings about the situation.
The Bruins informed Thornton shortly after the season ended that they would not be-signing him, a decision that made Thornton an unrestricted free agent. Hours after free agency began on July 1, the veteran winger signed a relatively lucrative two-year, $2.4 million contract with the Florida Panthers.
That puts Thornton’s Boston residency on hold for a couple of years, but he swears he’ll be back in the Hub once his career comes to an end. That’s something he emphasized again Tuesday as he revealed some details of his year-end meetings with the Bruins during a radio interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
“The year-end meeting was kind of (Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli) saying ‘I’m very loyal to you and a few other guys who have been here for the last seven years with me, and I’m gonna have to weigh my loyalty versus what I think is best for the organization in the next few years,’” Thornton said Tuesday morning.
“You’d have to ask him, but for them to offer me a contract, it probably would have been a lot lower than what I was going to get elsewhere, too. To be completely honest, if I wasn’t going to come back and if it was going to be a lowball offer to try and take a hometown discount, it would have been a very difficult decision. They probably did me a favor by letting me go a little bit early. I’ve got a couple of years left and this will always be home. So I’ll go make some money and hopefully help Florida and then come back and settle down here (in Boston).”
Thornton’s departure does remove one of the club’s most influential veteran leaders from the dressing room, but Thornton doesn’t foresee the Bruins lacking leadership any time soon.
“We had a really tight locker room, and that’s not just me; that’s the guys who have been here forever — (Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara),” Thornton said. “As far as taking over that role, probably (Milan Lucic). I think he’s growing into it. He’s had some good people around him for the last seven years. I think he’s kind of, he’s a leader.”