Bruins' Thornton not into wearing a visor

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:36 PM ET

BOSTON — Those who go overboard saying a particular playoff series will be “a war” or “a circus” usually forget that fighting is almost taboo once the final 16 teams are determined.

But that doesn’t mean pugnacious Shawn Thornton of the Bruins wants to be wearing a visor when the truly intense games get underway in less than two weeks. Thornton griped throughout Thursday’s practice at the TD Garden with the unfamiliar shield, which protected multiple stitches (doctors lost count after 40) he received on his right temple from the skate blade of Chicago’s Fernando Pisani on Tuesday. The train tracks on his face ended uncomfortably close to his eye.

Fears that the stitches could open up and the unlikelihood that Thornton would chance that by dropping the gloves led to his removal from the lineup against the Maple Leafs. Yet Tuesday’s close call was not enough for the 33-year-old to change his mind on donning eye protection.

“I feel like I can see the ice a lot better without (a visor),” Thornton said. “Obviously there’s that unwritten rule (not using it) if you fight a lot.”

Thornton, who would have been the best Leaf to emerge from their thin 1997 draft class had the team kept him, then took a deep breath as he sought to defend the fighters’ code yet again.

“Put it this way. I think with my job, it would be a lot more dangerous for me to pop my helmet off and wrestle guys a lot more bigger than me. There’s a lot more chances of me falling on my head than getting cut like this. If it’s up to me then, I will be getting rid of (the visor) as soon as possible.”

It was mentioned to Thornton that junior hockey requires visors, but the combatants take time to remove them.

“That’s great, but I fight 15 to 25 times a year,” Thornton said. “That’s 15 to 25 times I might have a 240-pound guy land on top of my bare skull. I think that’s more dangerous.

“I’ve played 14 years and I’ve been cut four times in the face from sticks or skates, whatever. With the odds, I think I’ll have no visor and keep my helmet on. I’m more worried about landing on my head than getting cut.

“I’ve had this argument when they were bringing visors into the minors. I’m aware of the risks, but it’s my choice.”

Boston coach Claude Julien was in a tough spot when asked about Thornton’s position.

“I would always encourage a player to wear one if he can play with one,” Julien said. “But there are people from the old school who didn’t have them and feel they can’t get comfortable. Whether we eventually move on in this game, whether it becomes mandatory, we’ll have to see. Most guys are playing with one now.”

That said, Julien received no strong objection from Thornton about sitting on Thursday.

“Just because you’re a tough guy doesn’t mean you’re not a smart guy,” Julien quipped.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


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