Monday, July 21, 2008
Scott Thornton was a veteran forward who wore an “A” on his sweater last season, and while I’m sure he had some influence off the ice for the younger players, I wished that he had more of an on-ice role. He played in 47 games getting 5 goals, 3 assists for 8 points, ended up at a +1, and had 39 PIM. Even though his numbers don't reflect it, I felt that he was a player who came to play every night whenever he was in the lineup. He played in just a couple less games than Brian Willsie, but I can remember more of his shifts. There’s a certain presence that one can have while out on the ice and I felt that Thornton was one of those types of players. In saying that, I definitely felt bad for him whenever I saw that he was a "healthy scratch."
I always wondered what type of leadership role he was having over the younger players when he was a constant scratch. I remembered thinking many times, "How much influence can he have if he’s not out on the ice on a regular basis?" According to Ron Hextall at the Kings Roundtable, we, as fans, have to remember that just because Thornton was a healthy scratch didn’t mean that he wasn’t suffering from some sort of nagging injury. At the same time, when he was scratched, we had to go without his grittiness on whatever line Crawford threw him out on. I’m not saying that he was an elite player whose role was on the top line, but there was a sort of undeniable extra spark whenever he was in the lineup. He definitely threw down a few times and held his own as an older player. I recall he was INSENSED when the Kings were playing Chicago and Dustin Byfuglien grabbed Lubo to have a go. I remember Jim Fox saying he thought that Byfuglien realized he didn’t grab a fighter so that they were instead just grappling with each other. But as someone who is able to win his fair share of fights, Thornton wanted nothing more than to rip Byfuglien’s head clean off .
I believed he made noticeable difference whenever he was out there and he definitely deserved more ice time, but to think that he was too injured to take any extra ice time he could have been given is really unfortunate. When it was announced that the Kings’ last game of the season would possibly be the last of Thornton’s career, I was pretty bummed. That last game is customarily Fan Appreciation Day where the players give selected fans the jerseys off their backs. When it was Thornton’s turn, the person receiving his jersey was actually his wife. I thought it was definitely fitting that the Kings brought her out for this occasion. She had been with him since he was playing in Juniors and for her to be there at the end was a classy move by the organization.
To Scott, I had hoped your last season in the NHL could have ended better, but thanks for your efforts on every shift. I hope I’m not alone in saying that I wished you could have been healthier to take more shifts because we needed it.