B’s may not bring Thornton back

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It seems Shawn Thornton may have played his last game for the Boston Bruins.

Why does it seem that way?

Well, first off, Thornton is 36 and a pending unrestricted free agent, and general manager Peter Chiarelli has already set the table for the popular fourth-liner’s departure.

From Metrowest Daily News:

“Thorty I thought had kind of an up-and-down year,” Chiarelli said. “He got, obviously, the incident with Pittsburgh [that resulted in a 15-game suspension for attacking Brooks Orpik] and you know, there’s trends in hockey and the fisticuffs trend — this doesn’t characterize Thorty as just a fighter because he contributed on that line and that line has had a lot of success in the past — but there is definitely, we’re trending away from that style.

“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.’ “

Helping Chiarelli set that table was Bruins team president Cam Neely, who noted the organization’s displeasure with Thornton’s squirting of PK Subban with a water bottle during the playoffs.

From CSN New England:

It’s interesting to note how much shade Neely throws on Thornton’s actions with the water bottle at the end of Game 5, given how many signs there seem to be that No. 22 won’t be returning to the Black and Gold.

“The water-bottle incident is something that as an organization you don’t like to see happen, to be quite honest with you,” he said.

As popular as Thornton has been in Boston — famously being inserted into the lineup in Game 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, and helping the B’s fight back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Vancouver — Chiarelli may want to use the veteran’s roster spot for a younger player. Perhaps one with more speed and skill, if not the toughness that Thornton brought to the table.

The Bruins still have two thirds of the celebrated Merlot Line under contract, with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille each having one year left before they can become UFAs.