BOSTON -- Since Gregory Campbell suffered a broken leg blocking a shot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bruins head coach Claude Julien has had to do a lot of line shuffling. One result of that has been a decrease in ice time for Shawn Thornton, who played just 4:56 in Game 2 in Chicago.
But while that may seem to indicate that he is not as valuable on the ice as some of his teammates and make some people wonder why Thornton is still in the lineup, Bruins coach Claude Julien made it clear Monday morning in his pre-Game 3 press briefing that Thornton is still an important part of the team.
According to Julien, Thornton brings a lot more than just a veteran presence in the dressing room.
“Let's not confuse something here. He's not in the lineup because of what he brings in the dressing room,” Julien said. “We got a lot of guys that do that. He's in our lineup even though his minutes go down, because he deserves to be there. He's great on the forecheck. He's actually a lot smarter of a player than a lot of people give him credit for. He reads plays well; doesn't get himself in trouble much; gets the puck out of our end. Certainly his presence makes our team better. We've seen that at times when we've had to pull him out. There's no doubt our team is more comfortable with him in our lineup for all the right reasons.”
When asked by ESPNBoston.com, Thornton did not really want to discuss his value to the team or the decreased minutes except to say that he’s doing his job and happy to do it. But his teammate Johnny Boychuk appreciates the job Thornton does and applauded him for doing it and remaining upbeat.
“He’s gotta stay positive and do what’s right for the team and not your interests and he knows that,” Boychuk said. “He knows that and he’s always upbeat giving guys pats on the back, either physically or just telling them ‘good job’ when they come off the ice. That helps. You have to be like that and you have to stay positive. There’s no room for negativity in this locker room. Constructive criticism is always welcome but being positive and reinforcing when guys do something right to let them know it helps with the confidence.”