Outside of injuries and suspensions, the pending unrestricted free agent had been a lineup mainstay since arriving in 2007-08. But the Bruins are now seeking reformation on their depth units, particularly the renowned Merlot Line.
Upon announcing the decision, general manager Peter Chiarelli reminisced with reporter Caryn Switaj of the team’s website as follows:
I thought when he came here, I think his conditioning really went to the next level and he was able to form one third of maybe the best fourth line in hockey for the longest time…he scored some timely goals, he’s got some surprising skill for what role he brings and of course, he won a Cup with us and went to the Final again.
Per hockeyfights.com, Thornton dropped his mitts 110 times in the preseason, regular season and postseason while sporting Bruins attire. Many of his devotees in New England will surely underscore a few of those in their memory banks.
But as Chiarelli noted, the 36-going-on-37-year-old also demonstrated a worthwhile measure of aptitude in determining the destination of the puck. He made 2010-11 his career campaign, breaking double digits in both the goal and assist column. Overall, he amassed a 34-42-76 regular-season scoring log in his seven-year tenure with Boston.
Thornton’s quantifiable contributions were less visible in the playoffs. Nevertheless, he jutted out as a difference-maker at least once on each of the deeper runs.
With the seven-year alliance officially ending, here is a look back at seven of Thornton’s best highlights with the Bruins.