Politely Declined

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A brief note in Wednesday’s Globe explains that Cam Janssen asked Shawn Thornton to drop the gloves before the opening face-off of Monday’s game vs. The Blues in St. Louis and Thornton said no.

I am of two minds about this.

On the one hand, I consider Shawn to be one of the brighter tough guys in the league when it comes to picking his spots for a fight. I think it’s something that Claude Julien preaches as well; knowing when it will benefit your team and when it won’t. Consider the circumstances in this one: St. Louis came into the game struggling, looking for a spark at home and Janssen wants to provide it right off the top. Coach has given him the start and he’s lined up against his equivalent, Shawn Thornton. From his point of view, the perfect spot for a go.

Not so from a Bruins perspective, perhaps. The B’s come in having won three straight for the first time all season and have done it on the road. Thornton could argue that dropping the gloves at that point against such a formidable opponent would do nothing but benefit the Blues, playing right into Janssen’s strategy. Thus, he declines the offer.

Fair enough. You have to respect that approach. Certainly, I think visiting teams do exactly the same when in Boston knowing damn well that the B’s are a team that can really feed off of emotion, especially at home where the crowd loves nothing more than a good fracas on the ice. In fact, there’s a rich tradition of it. I bet if you ask Thornton, he could tell you about any number of times that opponents have declined his own requests the way he did Janssen’s.

Of course, the other way I look at it is that it’s a fight I would love to see. Thornton is as experienced and tough a fighter as you will find at his size, 6-2 217, and matches up well with Janssen, 6-0 210, in terms of class. Janssen has had some classic fights this season and earned a coveted spot on our Fight Page a number of times.

Chances are it would have been a beauty.

Chances are.

But we won’t know, at least not this season. That was the one and only time the two teams will meet in 2009-10. Unless one of them gets traded or they meet in the Stanley Cup Finals, it shall not take place.

Good strategy or opportunity lost? You tell me.

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