Shawn Thornton returns to Boston on Tuesday night in what should be an emotional reunion between the current Florida Panthers pugilist and the fans who cheerfully watched him pummel opponents as a beloved fourth-liner.
When a goon faces his former mates for the first time as a foe, the obvious question is whether he intends to ply his trade (a.k.a. punch someone in the face repeatedly), considering he’s got a lot of close friends on the other side of the ice.
Thornton told the Sun-Sentinel he doesn’t plan on fighting a Bruin. But sometimes the best laid plans yadda yadda yadda. From the Sun-Sentinel:
"I never go into a game thinking about it. I haven't for a long time," said Thornton, a veteran of 125 NHL regular-season fights since entering the league in 2002, according to HockeyFights.com. "They're pretty banged up, I think a lot of their toughness is actually out of their lineup.
"But you never know. I'd beat up my own sister if it got us two points.”
(That would make for an awkward Thanksgiving conversation at the Thornton family table, me thinks.)
Thornton might be itching for a scrap, as he’s only had one in seven games for the Panthers, and that was against Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils in Game 2. (Not exactly a fair fight, considering Salvador’s inability to defend anything this season.)
The Bruins, meanwhile, know Thornton has a job to do, and are ready to take him on if necessary.
“If something ends up happening then you do what you’ve got to do. I’m sure he’d say the same exact thing. He’s fought a lot of different guys that he’s friends with before,” said defenseman Adam McQuaid.
The Bruins have only had five fights this season, including one with McQuaid.
One assumes Thornton doesn’t have anything on his dance card coming into this game. But if the Panthers need some enforcement, one also assumes he’ll step up and enforce. And then we’ll all get to see a perplexed Boston crowd trying to figure out who to cheer for in that punchfest…