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These Guys Are the Worst: Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton is the worst.


We present to you a new series explaining exactly why particular members of the Boston Bruins are the absolute worst, in no particular order:

One of the hallmarks of the Boston Bruins' best teams on a historical basis is that they have a roster full of guys who are perfectly willing to beat opponents up in a fist fight when all else fails and, often, even when all else is going smoothly.

The latest foremost practitioner of this principle is a borderline Neanderthal — he certainly looks like he just stepped out of a Geico commercial — named Shawn Thornton, who has made a bit of a career out of both his overt willingness to throw heavy shots at anyone who crosses his teammates and sling moral outrage over the state of the game any time someone who doesn't wear the Spoked B does the same.

To Thornton's credit, he is not a John Scott type you can only play five minutes a night without seriously bleeding goals, but at the same time, he's also a barely-functioning NHL player still tapdancing around in a role befitting a much younger man whose secondary and tertiary skills, after punching people in the face, have long since receded into near-nonexistence.

And so it has fallen to Thornton, who has engaged in 92 regular-season fights since coming to Boston in 2007-08, to defend not only his teammates but the honor and respect in the sport that has long since escaped it largely due to the cheap garbage his teammates routinely pull. For every time he's had to fight bad actors like Matt Cooke in response to brutal, cheap hits, he's probably had to do it twice to stand up for gutless pukes like Brad Marchand who would never answer the call from another team's Thornton-type for themselves under any circumstances, but who spend only slightly less time trying to injure opponents than they do playing hockey.

Thornton believes very deeply in two things: That you shouldn't mess with his teammates and that everything they do has to be defended. While Cooke, just to circle back to that example, would never under normal circumstances fight a league heavyweight like Thornton, the Bruins' chief goon insisted, and the Pens villain had no choice to oblige. But if anyone tried to hold Marchand to that same level of accountability, look out, cuz a big fella with the cranial shape of a Cro-Magnon will absolutely come over the boards to say swear words at them and probably try to punch them in the face. The two-facedness would be amazing, if he didn't have a storied history of being duplicitous.

You'll recall that in the run-up to the Flyers/Bruins Winter Classic in Boston, there had never been a fight in the NHL's small number of modern-era outdoor games. So the question on everyone's mind, given the participants that time around, was "Who exactly was Thornton going to fight?" However, when someone even brought up the subject, they didn't even get to the final T before Thornton launched into a big, obviously prepared spiel about how hypocritical it is that the media is trying to get staged fighting out of the game while also egging him on to engage in it, as if he ever needed the help. The next day, he fought Dan Carcillo in a staged fight to the surprise of absolutely no people, living or dead.

But that's Thornton's modus operandi: Bemoaning one thing as being terrible or unfair or bad for the sport while personally endorsing it either outright — through engaging in staged fights like the one with Cooke or Carcillo or any number of the league's pugilists in an effort to swing momentum for his team — or tacitly by letting Marchand get away with the crap he so routinely gets away with.

And just in case you needed one last bit of evidence that Thornton's concern for the quiet respectability of the game does not apply in any way to himself, there is this: