Bruins GM Chiarelli unsure if pending UFA Shawn Thornton will be retained

Thomas Drance
Michael Ivins / Reuters

Boston Bruins enforcer and fourth liner Shawn Thornton is a pending unrestricted free-agent, and based on the way other team's executives have name-checked him as an ideal fourth-liner, there will surely be interest in his services on the open market. His current organization, the Boston Bruins, are unsure if they'll be among the bidders, however.

"Thorty I thought had a kind of up and down year," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said on Friday per DJ Bean of WEEI. "He got, obviously, the incident with Pittsburgh and you know, there’€™s trends in hockey and the fisticuffs trend — again, this doesn’€™t characterize Thorty as just a fighter because he contributed on that [fourth] line."

Despite Thornton's 'contributions' outside of being a brawler, Chiarelli isn't sure that Thornton's heavy, banging game fits in with his vision for what he wants out of a fourth-line going forward. "That line has had a lot of success in the past," Chiarelli said, speaking of the lionized Merlot line featuring Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Dan Paille, "but there is definitely, we’€™re trending away from that style."

Added the Bruins general manager, "I had a discussion with Thorty this morning and I said, ‘€˜Look, give me a couple weeks to digest what’€™s happened and then we’€™ll go from there.’"

Thornton meanwhile made it clear that he wants to continue his career. While he may have to sign with a new team to continue drawing an NHL salary, his heart will stay in Boston. "I’m hoping I’m back," Thornton told per Zuri Berry. "I don’t know, I haven’t had a meeting yet. If not, I’m still going to be in the community and still going to be here. This is where we live now, this is home. That stuff isn’t going to change."