Many fans in Boston took it hard when resident tough guy Shawn Thornton signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers in July.
After being the face of what became the modern version of the “Big Bad Bruins” he had a strong following with the crowd. He was also a big hit amongst his teammates as well.
As Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com shared, Thornton’s now former teammates are lamenting the loss of the guy who would drop the gloves in their defense.
“Those are the guys you never want to give up, though,” goalie Tuukka Rask said. “I don’t think people necessarily talk about it too much, but you need that kind of leadership inside the locker room. You can’t just be quiet in there. You have to have young guys step up when you lose that, and its part of the challenge. Every team has to go through it.”
Plenty of teams have different things that help get them going. The Bruins seemed to feed off emotion in their games and that’s where they believe they’ll miss Thornton. Think back on all those heated games where a big hit or a fight seemed to snap them out of a fog and they’d roll from there. It’s that brand of motivation the Bruins felt Thornton brought to them.
While he’s not the best player on the ice, he was important to the Bruins’ mindset via his leadership. Now they’ll have to get by with replacing him with someone with a different skill set. The Panthers, meanwhile, will hope that guidance can be put to good use in their seemingly very young locker room.
After talking about the Blues all day today, we know plenty about how disappointing things have been in St. Louis after three straight seasons with disappointing finishes.
Fortunately for Blues fans, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is looking on the bright side of life. Rather than dwelling on not reaching the ultimate goal and bringing the franchise its first Stanley Cup, he’s using those defeats as motivation as he told Chris Lomon at the NHLPA website.
“The one great thing about this group is that through the disappointments, team chemistry is through the roof,” noted Shattenkirk. “It’s a very close locker room and everyone sticks together. That’s something I learned from the moment I came to St. Louis. I think the guys we’ve added will experience the same thing. We know we haven’t done what we’ve set out to accomplish. We also know that’s the one thing we’re focused on.”
With the addition of Paul Stastny to the roster the Blues are truly in “go for it” mode. One area they don’t have to worry about is defense.
Shattenkirk’s play on the blue line has been a big reason why the Blues have been so strong on the back end. Teamed up with Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, the Blues defense is a legitimate strength. Swapping the slow-footed but physical Roman Polak for sure-handed Carl Gunnarsson this summer was an under-the-radar move that could pay off handsomely as well.
It’s virtually the same team that they had last season. Chemistry shouldn’t be a problem with this club and neither should motivation.
Last season was a big one for Carolina Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin.
After arriving from Boston as a free agent last summer, he was able to take over the starting job in January after returning from injury.
While his reign as starter was coupled with an injury to incumbent starter Cam Ward, Khudobin tells Alessandro Seren Rosso of The Hockey Writers it was mostly his play that helped him keep the starting job.
“It’s hard to say what was more important, if Ward’s injury or my game,” Khudobin said. “But probably my game, because even if Ward wouldn’t get injured and I wouldn’t play that way, they wouldn’t play me that often. So, maybe it was all this put together. I was injured myself earlier, and some other guys stepped up and played well. Maybe those times I was unlucky. But this time it was the other way around. Injuries never are a good situation for any player, but all went that way.”
That last line is something both he and Ward would agree on.
The pair combined to play in 66 games last season. Khudobin missed two months with a lower-body injury and Ward returned from a season-ending knee injury two seasons ago only to deal with lower-body issues throughout last season. Now the duo is set to compete for the starting job this season provided their bodies don’t betray them.
If there’s something the ‘Canes could use consistently next season it’s solid goaltending. Given how well Khudobin played and how lost in the woods Ward has been, the edge belongs to the Russian.