Shawn Thornton open to joining Canucks?

It’s incredible how Shawn Thornton has become one of the most overrated players in hockey. The news that the Boston Bruins won’t re-sign the beloved enforcer, who has averaged fewer than five goals per 82 games over his 11-year career including playoffs, shook the hockey media Tuesday.

Normally, this wouldn’t register on the Canucks Army scale of noticeability, since Thornton, who has averaged fewer than five goals per 82 games over his 11-year career including playoffs, plays for a team way back East that the Canucks see twice a season, but it’s appropriate to be worried that the Canucks might have Thornton, who has averaged fewer than five goals per 82 games over his 11-year career including playoffs, on their radar.

Thornton, who has averaged fewer than five goals per 82 games over his 11-year career including playoffs, made the media rounds Tuesday afternoon and is apparently open to Vancouver. His history here mostly involves aggressive residue from the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, a series which unfortunately defined the legacy of the losing team moreso than that of the winning team:

In addition to the Leafs, Thornton also had some favourable things to say about the Canucks organization.

Thornton knows new Canucks GM Jim Benning from his time with the Bruins.

“I love Mr. Benning, him and his whole family,” Thornton told News1130 in Vancouver Tuesday. “If he gives me a shout, I will be more than happy to talk to him.”

Oh, good. Thornton would be open to the Canucks.

Actually, it’s likely that the fighter is open to any 29 teams. He’s 37 years old and has no tangible hockey skills to contribute. In addition to scoring five times and recording 8 points in 8:48 of average ice time this season, Thornton, who has averaged fewer than five goals per 82 games over his 11-year career including playoffs, had a -7.7% relative Corsi rate: identical to that of current Vancouver Canuck Tom Sestito.

This normally wouldn’t scare me, except that Trevor Linden specifically mentioned Thornton as “such an important guy” for the Boston model.

“When you assign roles to players on the third and fourth line, then they take ownership, and that’s important.”

I don’t think too many Canucks Army readers would disagree with Linden here, but you somewhat have to gauge how important a role is before taking on somebody to do it. When I was starting off as a freelance writer, I hired somebody to hit the ‘enter’ key for me at the end of every paragraph. This worker was very committed, prompt, dedicated, and really took ownership of his role in my writing. It didn’t mean he served any purpose in the finished product.

Boston are Boston because of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and replaced one Vezina-winning goaltender with another (likely) Vezina-winning goaltender. Their defensive and forward depth was actually an issue for them in the playoffs—only four players had more than one goal.

It’s odd how the enforcers for Stanley Cup teams are talked about with such reverence, while the enforcers for teams like Edmonton, Vancouver or Toronto, who collapsed down the standings, don’t seem to generate a share of the blame from the mainstream press.

So, yes. Signing Shawn Thornton would be a mistake, I really hope Jim Benning doesn’t sign Shawn Thornton, and I’d like to finish with a reminder that Shawn Thornton has averaged fewer than five goals per 82 games over his 11-year career including playoffs.

  • Defence77

    Adding 37 yr old 4th liners is not where this team is headed! We need at least one top 6 forward, hopefully someone to play with the Sedins.

    For the last ten years the twins have made players out of everyone from Anson Carter to Alex Burrows….. It’s time for this team to get a guy that can light it up on one timers and getting to the net. See what Gaborik did for the Kings….. All of a sudden the team that couldn’t score was lighting it up.

  • Defence77

    There is no way the Canucks need a fourth liner that is 37 years old. The fourth line has to be able to skate, hit, keep the pucks out of their end and chip in from time to time. They do not need to average five goals over their 11 year career and then sign with the Canucks and not score that many goals in Vancouver.

    If Thornton was say 30-32 I would say, yes bring him in as he could provide some toughness to the team, and some leadership, but at 37, the only thing he can bring is a leadership. The Canucks need more than leadership.

  • Defence77

    We have three lines worth of bottom 6 players.




    You could add Burrows to that if he’s not with the Sedins.

  • Defence77

    Hmmm….I’ll need some numbers before I believe this to be a bad thing. What’s his goal production look like over the last 11 years, including playoffs?

  • Defence77

    Please noooo to Shawn. Van does not need a player like this, it will only end up with repeat penalty’s and suspensions for us. He would get eaten alive with punishment playing for the Nucks.

          • BuffaloBillsOfHockey


            By the way, I do not want Shawn Thornton on the Canucks.

            I would hope that the last few years of chasing stiffness would be a lesson to those that believe it was/is the missing ingredient for this franchise to win a Stanley Cup.

            However, Shawn Thornton does have 2 Stanley Cup rings and millions of dollars earned from his trade.

            He could care less what basement bloggers situated in the axis of mediocrity think about him…

          • pheenster

            I figured you knew that, but with sports fans, you just never know lol…

            This kind of argument is why I hate the common man. I guess that’s a different subject, though…

        • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

          Well, that and the fact that he was basically there by coincidence.

          Let me put on my director’s cap and tell you to picture this (granted, unlikely, but not disgustingly implausible) scenario: Tom Sestito is traded to the Flyers one season earlier and they aren’t swept by the Blackhawks. In fact, they win in 6 or 7 games. Sestito (though likely not a difference maker, by the math) now has a Stanley Cup championship ring.

          Then, next season, he is seen by management as dead weight or a liability and traded (or released on waivers and signed) to the Vancouver Canucks (a little ahead of how it actually played out), who in game seven, instead of losing 4-0 to Thornton and the Bruins, win 2-1. Sestito now has two championship rings and Thornton only one.

          So the question is: In the above theoretical case, or the real world one involving Thornton, do you see either him or Sestito contributing on any significant level compared to say, Toews, Giroux, Bergeron, or Burrows? Can you even tell them apart by their career trajectories anymore? Of course not. In fact, if you follow this model, Sestito suddenly looks like the big-shot champion and for no real reason. Face it: these players are of the caliber where they are simply along for the ride and nothing more.

          The answer is simple between the fact that, as Charron already indicated, their career possession statistics over time (not a small, one-season sample) have Sestito and Thornton neck and neck to finish their careers as the exact same knuckle-dragging player and that neither has made any significant Finals contribution to even give an inkling otherwise. In 2007 Thornton was – to use a popular term I’ve never personally liked, often seen on sports blogs – a “no show.” Unless of course, you count his charging penalty in the 2007 Finals. That’s right; he actually held the eventual champions, his teammates, back that year without contributing a single point. Well, what about his “vital” contributions in the Bruins’ 2011 championship, you might ask. Glad you did. He logged a roughing penalty which had to be served by Michael Ryder because he also simultaneously managed a game misconduct, again a liability. Of course he did make it up in the third period of game four by “showing up” in a big way to be a “difference maker” and serve Tim Thomas’ slashing penalty in a 4-0 Boston victory to which he contributed no points. And who could forget his amazing sacrifice for his team in his game six misconduct, a 5-2 Bruins victory with, again, no points contributed by Thornton?

          Some (ignorant ex-jocks who failed to make the cut, mostly) would say that Thornton contributed leadership on those championship teams. But do you really think that he was the one giving the Hollywood-stereotyped big speech in the locker room versus say, Selanne or Chara? I think not. It’s far more likely that he still had his bib on to keep the drool off of his jersey while he sat there and listened to the speech being delivered in the locker room, which is probably how Sixtito spent most of his “speech time” in the locker rooms of the Blue Jackets, Flyers and Canucks, too. The math is all there. Neither of these two are contributors at an NHL level. Never have been, never will be.

          Thornton is the equivalent of that guy who played on your beer league softball team last summer; he never came to practice, got drunk on the communal team keg before the games even started, played left field with no runs and five outs all season and got his name etched on the trophy based on the skill, hard work, tenacity and luck of others (in that order), anyway.

          Long story short: Don’t read too much into championship rings, because some players claw and fight their way into a Stanley Cup championship with pure skill and a healthy dose of luck, and some players simply ride there on the shoulders of giants.

        • pheenster

          Just wanted to say that it’s a free Internet and I’ll post whatever drivel happens to pop into my head if I damn well feel like it, dumbass. You sure as hell do.

          • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

            Go on and express yourself. It’s what makes forums interesting.

            I believe that NM00 was simply stating that the “Trashes” and “Props” are kept anonymous at this point (probably for a reason, though who knows why) and he’s OK with it staying that way.

            And he’s kind of right. We don’t need to know whether or not an individual agrees or not as it’s reflected in their rebuttal, lack thereof or propping or trashing of the comment by all collective readers.

            That being said, I’d like to quickly throw out there that the “air of inevitability” that you describe in the potential Thornton trade is what freaks out a lot of Canucks fans old enough to remember the Keenan era.

            Does bringing in a lauded, “winning” management-type (Keenan then, [possibly] Benning now) and players from the team that defeated you in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final (Messier then, [possibly] Thornton and/or Marchand now) only to have them [possibly] gut your organization from within and urinate on the corpse ring any bells?

            If it does, please understand that Thornton’s contributions seem “intangible” to the rest of us for the very reason that there is absolutely no substantial evidence of them at all. Furthermore, for these reasons, please understand why many Canucks fans would be wary of Benning, especially if he were to onboard a bunch of controversial Bruins figures with him into the Canucks’ organization.

            I’ll say this for Marchand, though; he might be a bit of a “Summer’s Eve,” and if he were brought aboard he *might* even be capable of terminating all effort and trolling his new teammates by “kissing the rings, b!&*#,” but at least he’d be coming aboard with some nice possession stats, unlike Thornton.

  • pheenster

    I think a lot of heads are going to explode on July 1 as this seems to have an air of inevitability to it. The Benning connection, Linden calling him out specifically as having the kind of intangibles (my interpretation) that the Canucks need… I’m actually fine with it as long as he doesn’t make much money and spends most of his time in the press box.

  • BuffaloBillsOfHockey

    I am not saying that I want the Canucks to sign him, but having someone with his intimidation factor is probably a good thing… I remember it affecting Luongo in the SCF.