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by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
TAMPA BAY, Fla. -- There can't be too many players who take more pride in putting on a Black & Gold spoked-B sweater than Shawn Thornton.


Thornton
But on Thursday night, Thornton's game jersey went unused for the first time in the 2011 postseason.

Thornton was sat as the B's Patrice Bergeron returned from his concussion and Tyler Seguin remained in the lineup.

"To what I've been told, he kind of knew after Game 2," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien of the decision to sit Thornton.

"Bergeron had an opportunity to come back and he knew that with the way Tyler played, if all those things fell into place, he'd probably be the odd mad out.

"But he deserved to hear it from me and have a good chat."

From Thornton's perspective, that chat was probably less than 'good' but the pugilistic forward told his coach he understood the decision and simply wanted what was best for the team.

"That's important and that just solidfies what kind of a teammate Shawn Thornton is," said Julien.

On Friday afternoon, Thornton returned to the ice for regular practice and then some.

Obviously, you work your whole life to be in this situation, you don't want to watch games once you get here, but in the big picture you look at it and I'm the right choice at this point." - Shawn Thornton
"I talked to [Assistant Coach Doug Houda] about it," said Thornton. "I asked if I could do extra today to stay as game ready as possible and it's my job to stay ready in case something happens.

"Whether it's an injury or a change of personnel or whatever it may be...I'll do whatever I can to stay on top of myself to make sure I'm ready to go."

None of this is really a shock to anyone who has followed the Bruins since Thornton joined the Bruins for the 2007-08 season (after winning a Stanley Cup with Anaheim that previous spring) and as hard as it was for Thornton to take, it was probably harder for Coach Julien to make the decision to take the right wing out of the lineup.

"You know, a couple parts we miss from him is his leadership and that's why he's in warm-ups and he's in the dressing room before the game," said Julien. "We think he's a really good leader, especially getting guys ready and getting the team ready to play.

"At the same time, when he's in our lineup, there's a sense of security, you know, comfort in our team.

"And that's the part sometimes when you take a guy out like that you kind of hate to see."

That said, Thornton said he was the logical choice to sit.

Tim Thomas, right, jokes with teammate Shawn Thornton as they skate during hockey practice in Wilmington, Mass., Tuesday, April 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
"It's tough. Obviously, you work your whole life to be in this situation, you don't want to watch games once you get here, but in the big picture you look at it and I'm the right choice at this point," said Thornton. "I understand the decision and I support it fully.

"It's whatever's best for the team this time of year and I've always been about that especially in playoffs.

"It's tough watching," he added. "But I fully support why I'm watching."

Thornton's reaction was very in character for a man who embodies character on team that prides itself on character.

"He's all about 'team' and that's what you look for as a coach," said Julien. "He deserves a lot of credit for that."

Thornton did admit, however, that it was easier to watch a win.

"Definitely. It's tough when everyone feels that they can help the team, so when you're not out there and you lose it's a lot tougher to swallow," said Thornton. "When you win you're very happy, so I thought the guys played unbelievable.

"They did a really good job in all areas of the game, so if I was going to sit out one, I am glad it was one like that."
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