On Monday Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli announced that the Bruins will not be re-signing Thornton this summer, making him a free agent come July 1.
"Today I met with Shawn and we had a good meeting. I informed him that we wouldn't be re-signing him. It was good in the sense that we talked about the time Shawn has spent here. He has been here for seven years so he's been here almost from the beginning and I told him that he was one of the most significant acquisitions we made for 1) because of the role that he played and 2) the person that he is," GM Peter Chiarelli explained.
"I wished him luck and I'm sure he'll have success with his next team."
Thornton originally joined the Bruins in 2007-08 and always had a clear role established; a fourth-line energy guy who was also Boston's primary enforcer. The 36-year-old averaged anywhere between 7:24 and 10:05 per game in the seven seasons with the Bruins while displaying a small offensive touch with 34 goals, 42 assists in his seven seasons with Boston.
Thornton's best offensive seasons was in 2010-11 when he had 10 goals and 10 assists -- both career highs. Even if he's not an incredibly popular player around the league -- ask P.K. Subban -- he was a favorite in the Bruins room so he will be missed in that capacity.
The question now becomes what kind of market will there be for Thornton. He's on the wrong side of 35 now and the tough guy role has been slowly diminishing in hockey, meaning teams will have to think Thornton can still play as well.