Yesterday Peter Chiarelli informed Shawn Thronton that the Bruins would not attempt to resign him, ending a celebrated seven year career in Boston for the fourth line winger. Thornton has been a fan favorite for years due to his scrappy style and highlight-reel fights that seem to go down in nearly every regular season game.
With Thornton taking his fists to a new franchise, the question that has arisen is who will fill his role on the Bruins? Who can be Boston’s new “tough guy” that can make opponents accountable for cheap shots and dirty plays? That is a role that has started to disappear in the NHL but there is still a place for a player like that, granted that he has offensive skill to compliment an affinity for fighting.
Milan Lucic is a name that jumps to mind. He is a fantastic fighter with good technical skills and vicious hands. The only problem is that Lucic is a 30 goal scorer and plays on the first line, and it would be a detriment to the team to tae him off the ice for five minutes just to retaliate for a cheap shot. His fights are awesome to watch, but like most things in life, they should be enjoyed in moderation. Still, here’s one so you to sink your teeth into, because it’s going to be a long summer.
Adam McQuaid is another good option. He can definitely hold his own in a fight (see below) but he has had many injury woes over the last few years and you don’t want your enforcer to be a guy that makes you hold your breath every time he drops the gloves, that sort of goes against the basic requirements of the role.
For me, the easy winner is defenseman Kevan Miller. Miller is pretty skilled with the puck for a defenseman but that is not his real source of value. Miller hits like a mad man all over the ice and when drops the glove it rarely takes long before his opponents hit the sheet. He is in the back half of the rotation of defensemen, meaning that losing him for five minutes would not be as heavy a loss as Lucic or Chara would be. Here’s a nice little sampling of his work.
So yeah, the Bruins will not be lacking in the area of toughness anytime soon. Granted Miller does not have the same style as Thornton, his fights end much more quickly, but regardless no one will be messing with the Bruins knowing that Miller is lurking behind a play. Thornton was a great asset for the team but he is not irreplaceable, and Miller should be able to prove it this year.