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Bruins Player Report Cards 2010-11: Shawn Thornton

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Grade: A

Shawn Thornton is a fan favorite for multiple reasons. He was a part of the gritty fourth line (aka the Merlot Line) that was often clutch for the Bruins. Even when only seeing a mere five minutes of ice time, Thornton's effort remained at a consistent 100% night in and night out.

Off the ice, Thornton serves as one of Boston's most distinguished personalities, often responding to reporters and fans with (hilariously) sarcastic answers - but Boston wouldn't have it any other way.

In December, Thornton had arguably the best game of his NHL career, when just two seconds into the December 23rd game against the former Atlanta Thrashers, Thornton dropped the gloves and would end the night with two goals under his belt. Thornton had a career season with 10 goals, 10 assists, 14 fights, 122 penalty minutes, and 141 hits.

It's hard to criticize Thornton, who plays like he makes ten times more than his under $1 million salary. The Oshawa, Ontario native exudes leadership both on and off the ice, and often times took it upon himself to wake up his teammates, leading the team in fighting majors with 14 (though that number was a 33% decrease from his 2009-10 total of 21, which owes to the emergence of linemate Gregory Campbell, defenseman Adam McQuaid and even Nathan Horton as bruisers).

After being scratched during the Eastern Conference Finals, Thornton was brought back into the line-up during the Stanley Cup Finals. He brought his physicality back into the game (which was most notably seen in the emotional Game three), which Boston could not have won the Stanley Cup without.

Between the regular and post-season, Thornton proved that he's much more than just an emotional leader. The only thing that sidelined snarky grinder in the regular season? A skate to the face, but even a nasty open gash couldn't keep Thornton from challenging the Chicago bench to a fight. If Thornton doesn't embody everything that a Boston Bruin should be, then I don't know who does.