On 1/31/13 the Bruins played Buffalo for the first time in this shortened season. Many of our rivals hired a bunch of plugs to fight our guys misunderstanding what the word strong really means. While the B’s are a physical team they are an emotional one. Toughness is a mental state. You want to be good at something? Mental, emotional, physical in that order. As someone who enjoys hockey fights I looked forward to this season. Not thrilled other teams legitimately “gooned up” but it was clear we wouldn’t be left wanting in those 48 games.
Thornton fought Scott, got a brain injury and now everyone is trying to make sense of their feelings about this and their expectations moving forward. I’ve seen varied responses, to each his own perspective. This is mine.
Before I talk about the current state of things, I’m going to quickly hop down the road that ushered in my point of view. I’ve already told some of these stories on tumblr, look back for more details if you’re interested.
A couple years ago I had magically met the guy who won the Bruins Foundation raffle to meet DKM and some Bruins at that sold out St Paradise show. He invited me along last minute, after many others said no, as if it was meant to be all along.
I finally got to talk to Al as I had wanted to for over a decade. We had a long and meaningful conversation about the past and what it meant to the present. I also got my picture with him, barely. We tried 15 years ago at the Bruisers last show but my camera failed. Trying again was sketchy, my cell battery was dying and barely held on long enough. Al gave me crap for it almost not happening again, making a point that we wouldn’t have a chance in another 15 years.
Then Shawn Thornton bullied me into talking to him cause he was jealous. I kid. Yet maybe it’s true that Leo’s are cranky when they are not the center of attention. How would you explain someone squaring up in front of you, blocking your path with their arms crossed tightly against their chest while staring you down? I had paid no mind to the rest of the small room which was full of Bruins while talking to Al. Any way you call it my indifferent “oh, hi shawn” response was brilliant. Yes, a very clear ‘whatever’ in the face of confrontation. I should bold that last sentence.
Slowly got a handshake out of him and introduced myself. I started a conversation about being mentally positive, added that fans need to stay positive just as much as the players do if the team is expected to do good and win. It was stated in general but winning the cup was implied. A point driven home when Kenny jumped in to talk about my old t-shirt and he tells Shawn “you should have seen the shirt she wore last night”…the 1970 SCC locker room shirt. Kenny also clarified this Bruins shirt was my mothers and I grumpily repeated him and then it was as if a bomb dropped, end of conversation, we each drifted off after that. I’m pretty sure Ken was not aware of the main topic of discussion before he joined in. Shawn and I had moved on to talking about the upcoming schedule and I noticed his green all stars.
A few days later I went to the Bruins/Habs game. The first meeting between the teams since the Chara/Pac incident. Absolutely loved that game. Bruins beat em on the scoreboard.
A few weeks after talking to Shawn the whole “believe” in the Bruins mentality sprung up and grew to be everywhere you looked.
A couple months after talking to Shawn and having that slightly awkward moment with Ken, we won the Cup.
Now, the day after that initial conversation I thought, WTF, Shawn’s the last guy ya gotta worry about in regard to mentality. Why was I compelled to have that conversation? After the cup win I thought, timely, odd but timely. I have a knack at being in the right place at the right time so not a total shock it happened.
This week? Whole. New. Meaning.
This week both Shawn and I have concussions but there’s still more to this story before I talk about that. I can’t not add up all the coincidences. Due to personal interests I’ve been able to cross several paths with Shawn fairly often without divine luck. Because coincidence has everything to do with choice.
Cup summer, the CF Rotten Tomato Karaoke, Ken and Shawn were billed, I bought a ticket and didn’t go last minute because of my dog Butchie, there was concern for his health. I was disappointed, it would have been fun to revisit the awkward moment from St Paradise -yay new shirts for everyone! Did Shawn even go? I don’t recall seeing him in any pictures. Did see the video of Ken getting beaned in the head (by a Red Sox pitcher?) and he went down. Thought it was funny.
Morning after Karaoke, I get a message from my mother, she thinks she just met Shawn in the waiting area of our vet’s office. She’ll watch some of the games but wouldn’t confidently recognize the boys on the street. Our vet confirmed it for her (Scott brought it up), Shawn had the appt right before hers. She says that Shawn liked B, called him a “good lookin dog”. I was supposed to be there but bitched and wanted to get dropped off at work before the vet’s instead of after. Grr. Kicked myself for missing him two days in a row during that summer when it would have been great to bask in the glory of the victory.
That Sept, the DKM Fenway shows. Shawn brought the cup on onstage one of the nights. The other highlight for me from these shows, was when the band played several songs acoustically. I’ve been waiting for live DKM acoustic since a failed attempt in 1999. Ahh, the things you wait a long time for.
Wouldn’t get Shawn’s attention again till mid Dec at his book signing which went quick. He cared about spelling my name correctly, that’s nice. Then I ran into Ken while having lunch at McGreevy’s afterwards. We talked about a Red Sox book, an all acoustic show, and naturally, the next St Pats.
Thought I wouldn’t see anyone till St Pats but I took dad to the Bruins Christmas game and ran into Ken. Y’know cause it’s easy to randomly find people who you aren’t looking for at the Garden. [this wouldn’t be the only time I would randomly bump into people at the Garden. Ole and I found each other there recently, after many years of silence. Ole’s been in contact with Ken, unsure how we didn’t trip over each other sooner, but it happened the way it happened. In the Garden, at a Bruins practice.]
St Pats, upon the urging of Ken/DKM I check out Danny O’Connor, hesitant because of my past experiences with boxing I become a fan of the kid because he’s awesome on twitter which totally won me over. Wound up being really glad to have something else to hold my attention after the Bruins got booted from the playoffs that season (kind of a relief).
Spring, Shawn walks Danny into the ring at the HOB fight. When I first got to the after party I ran into Shawn at the bar, I said ”hey shawn” and promptly ignored him. I would walk up to him a bit later and finally, properly, congratulate him on the Stanley Cup win. I never said cup and it was over a season ago but he knew what I meant. It was a particularly pleasant interaction, the moment was not lessened in any way. When I attempted to get my pic taken with Danny, Shawn was near us and jumped at the chance to be in the pic too, haha Leos. The battery was low, camera wouldn’t work. Danny was disappointed, Shawn told me my phone sucks. Somehow it seemed I was the least upset the phone didn’t work. Luckily some new found friends (Joe and John) would get a pic of Danny and me later on with their camera. I think Shawn had already left. I don’t remember, I got fun drunk.
Tried to have a big birthday party that summer, didn’t work out because people and their schedules suck. Spent the party money on a trip to Houston to visit my dad and Danny instead. Stretched the budget to buy a new phone, didn’t want to travel with the old one that died so easily. Second thing on my mind was not having a sucky phone next time I saw Shawn.
Fight at Gillette. Walked straight up to Shawn telling him my phone doesn’t suck anymore. He smirked and shook my hand. Had our pic taken by the J’s I met at the HOB fight. Right before Danny was to fight I had to go to the bathroom. Being absent from my seat meant I missed out on being very visible in the background of a pic on Boston.com of Shawn being interviewed near the ring. This theme of being there/not being there, pictures/no pictures easily entertains me. As I returned to my seat the boys that were going to walk Danny were exiting to meet up with him. Shawn led the pack and we had to pass each other in a narrow area between the ring and front row. Neither of us were about to yield. I’m just not intimidated when he squares up with intention in front of me.
NHL lockout left a big gap of time where it seemed nothing happened. Danny fought again, Foxwoods. DKM played acoustic at prefight party, none of Danny’s ring walk crew were available so me and other fans attending the prefight party stepped up instead and put on a show for the HBO people. It was awesome.
It was a happy new year as the stupid lockout finally ended and there was an acoustic DKM set at McGreevy’s for their album release the same week. Talked to Al, was the first time I’ve chatted with him since St Paradise, we talk about that and the future. While waiting for Ken to arrive I see a gif of Shawn on twitter, interview clip of not being punched in the face for 9 months…it’s funny, I show it to people, we all laugh. At the end of the show I’d get smacked in the face with Ken’s mic stand. Later that night, at home, on my twitter timeline someone tweets/RTs about Shawn’s scene in Ted (his cameo is of a guy at a concert who gets hit in the face with a mic stand). This mention was unrelated and not in response to what happened to me a few hours earlier.
Hockey Resurrection party at the Harp. Shawn wore the same sweater that he did to the book signing. I realize I’ve never seen him in a different casual sweater, not even in photos. It’s either team gear, dress shirts/suits, t-shirts, and let’s not ignore the smashing camel coat, cashmere I’ll presume. There was a large crowd of people desperately trying to get his pic and autograph. As I got closer to the edge of the stage, almost my turn, the girl next to me handed him her phone to sign. This is stupid but was interesting to me.
Time was short we only talked about Danny’s next fight the following week. Said he might be in the corner due to Ken’s absence but wasn’t sure he’d be able. He moved down the line to attend to someone else. I got his attention again by motioning him over, it was weird cause I didn’t say anything I was just pointing him around. The purpose was for another pic, why not, my friend brought a proper camera. It was not without complications, and the comedy of errors gets funnier every time. No yapping just some honest laughter after I saw his hand come at me thru the lens as he tried to get my attention when I wasn’t pressing the right button. Best camera to date, worst pics to date, superficially speaking. In the end I love the fact that in the picture I took of him and Jackie he’s flat out laughing at me while I’m laughing at how silly it has all become.
Couple days before Danny’s fight at the Garden my “good looking dog” Butchie accidentally gave me a concussion. He bolted up as I leaned down to pet him and our heads crashed together. Had minors before, the spacey feeling, the headaches (my migraines are worse) and the overt sleepiness, in other words manageable. Went to the fight, saw Shawn but didn’t get to talk to him, glad his schedule allowed him to be there tho. Seriously cause that schedule of his is more elusive than Al Barr after a DKM show.
Maintained my regular schedule of work, watching the games on tv and online contact. It was five days post concussion before I started having really bad symptoms. Headache got worse. In an instant felt like I hadn’t slept in two days, could have fallen asleep anywhere on anything. Some stuttering during the meeting with my boss - when I force myself to focus that’s when the lapses become apparent. Balance issues. Forgot which hall to go down to get to the bathroom in a building that I have worked in for 19 years. Clearly the mental process was not operating the body properly, switched tasks at work, did something less challenging.
Next day everything that was going wrong got worse. Called in a doctors appt. Tried to hold it together cause I had Bruins tickets for the game against Buffalo. I wouldn’t see the doc till the day after the game.
Game day, I tweeted Danny on the bus ride home from work, asked him how he was doing, hoped he was feeling ok given the fight went 10 rounds. He says “great” that’s good. I’m very proud of him but I do worry. I felt somewhat better by the time I got home from work. Large visualization effort that day. Focused energy exercise, the “feeling sick is in the past, in the present I feel healthy” mantra. This shit does work, good thing too, no time to rest. Changed, ate quickly and left for the Garden.
Seat was closer to the glass than I like, technically 4th row but is 2nd row behind the penalty box (opponent) side. We all expected Shawn to fight. Looked forward to seeing the box action that tv never shows extensively. Love those rare clips or the photos of penalty parties. I don’t mind this seat for this game. Several minutes into the game Shawn’s bout with Scott happened. Maybe I’m blocking it but I can’t say I actually saw the fight that happened several feet away from me. However I couldn’t have had a better in-person view of Shawn going to the box, very troublesome, but then he seemed fine sitting there. The boys talked back and forth, not worked up or angry, couldn’t hear it of course but it appeared very casual. I was not overly worried at the time, not until he went down the tunnel after the 5. He wasn’t bleeding, he didn’t re-dress. Something was up that was not obvious.
So he goes off and like everyone else I’m thought he’s tough, he’ll be back before the end of the game. He didn’t come back tho, I pulled out my phone to check for a twitter update, nothing. Saw my mom had left a message, said it was ugly, that he really got beat. Twitter remained quiet, didn’t like the lack of news. We finally hear he’s out of the game. Watched it on DVR as soon as I got home,. Gut-wrenching.
My dream that night, I was at a place where a bunch of people with concussions were meeting. Wasn’t a depressing support group but it was intentional gathering, very upbeat. As the dream continued it seemed like days had passed and pairs of people were hooking up to pay visits to people they met at the “party” and check in on them. Shawn was in the dream, I didn’t recognize anyone else. He and some guy came to see me. The guy left after giving us a schedule and a map. Shawn and I were on our way to our first stop of four when I woke up. Figured that since there were repetitive themes from actual things that have occurred I wanted to believe that I was in a construct dream and playing out a scenario. But I knew better. I can tell my dreams apart and tried to deny it was in any way precog. I was not looking forward to the news.
It took several hours, much later that morning, concussion out 7-10 days. Not surprised by the diagnosis, very surprised at the 7-10. On one hand that made me want to believe it’s relatively minor and only a precaution to avoid him getting hit so very soon after the beatdown. On the other hand it really fucking pissed me off. Having been to the doctor myself the same day the news broke, well, they give you paperwork on this shit and obviously I’ve been researching it on my own. If it was mild he does his 20min and is back in the game, at the very least sits out but is ready for the next game, which he wasn’t (TOR). This can only mean we’re talking something more serious. But no one has been talking. The quote from Julien about the players being “defensively braindead” in that game is something I can’t exactly shake.
I passed the neurological tests, don’t have fluid in my ears, pupils are fine, but I’ve got more than a mild concussion. I may seem fine on the surface but while on twitter I called a friend by their first name and it took me a moment to recall the name, then I second guessed it, after hitting send I freaked a little cause I still wasn’t sure I had it right. That’s a little scary. From my own perspective of how I could continue work, go to a fight, a hockey game and maintain an online presence I’m sure no one would suspect the level of difficulty I’ve been having unless I tell them. You can kind of hide it. I have no reason to hide it but someone who does, might and could. Athletes are notorious for downplaying injury to get back in the game. My ability to say, oh he’s tough, he’ll be fine, flew out the window and isn’t coming back.
If I was not co-currently concussed maybe I’m less serious about this situation but I don’t have that pleasure. I didn’t pick that game because it was Buffalo, it was a time and money thing. A simple choice, right? But was it? Because of how things line up in my life oh so coincidentally, I can’t pretend that this was freak accident.
I admit the fight in itself was, that was not a typical match-up even if Shawn is often at a size disadvantage. I agree he’s doing his job and that Z or Looch were not the answer and are not going into the next meeting either. But neither is Shawn. I wish that we get another sound game like the one I mentioned earlier -against Montreal after the Max Pac fallout. Play hockey, hurt em on the scoreboard.
The part about me being there, so close to him as it happened with my own concussion from a dog he randomly met while visiting our vet who is named Scott and he gets a concussion too. I always see how life rearranges itself and links up this way, it’s not unique but in this particular case the pattern is more elaborate than usual. The fact that I talked to Danny about how he was feeling a couple hours before Shawn was beaten plays into this.
I was huge into boxing, Gatti was my favorite, no one got more messed up or messed up others quite like he did in his time. Not even freak show Tyson. You like it or you don’t. I supported Arturo doing what he did while he did it. For the record I think his suicide is BS.
On one of Gatti’s under cards at Foxwoods was a local fighter who I crossed paths with while staying over night at the Inn. Turned out some of the fighters and trainers stayed there too rather than the main building. My dad and I had ridden on the shuttle with Gatti’s corner men. Gatti KO’d his opponent in the first, ended that guys career. I was impressed with what I saw from local guy Bobby Tomasello and began to follow him by going to his club fights in town. I didn’t have many opportunities, long story short he ends up dead. After winning a fight at the Roxy he went back to the dressing room, said he didn’t feel good and collapsed. Didn’t regain consciousness, family pulled the plug on him a few days after.
I stopped following boxing for a very long time. The corruption was enough, the death was too much. Didn’t return till last year because of Danny. I support him not because I care about boxing again. I support him because I care about him as a person. The unexplainable reason you like someone and befriend them as opposed to someone else. I’m not in any rush to go to anyone else’s matches.
I don’t hate fighting, to assume that would be wrong. While I was off boxing I got my fight fix from hockey. And I will continue to support fighting in hockey. However just like I can single out Danny from the industry he’s in, I can also single out Shawn. It never crossed my mind to worry about Shawn even tho he’s doubled up in the danger department.
I don’t care that Shawn lost a fight I have never viewed him as invincible. This is about injury. For comparison when he took a skate to the face was bleeding profusely and then argued with the bench…I wanted him to jump the wall and start swinging. I hoped his cut wasn’t bad, I thought it sucked he had to sit out, I couldn’t wait till he came back. I have not AT ALL felt this way in the aftermath of the Scott fight. I watched it on DVR a few times the night it happened, watched a video replay twice on the message boards I lurk, and I’ve seen very emotional photographs of him getting punched on the Bruins site. My only and instant reaction to each of these things is the thought of Bobby Tomasello. This is my absolute intuitive impression that cannot be persuaded. It’s very, very upsetting.
As other people wish Shawn well and bandy about the realities of his chosen profession, I sense the concern, I agree with alot of what is said, but we are definitely not on the same page. I don’t feel people are as upset about this as I am. I feel like alot of things are excuses and missing the point of the situation. I’m over it, I’m seriously fucking over it.
At this moment the only other piece of information I’ve seen about the fight comes from Haggs (don’t believe half of what he says). He claims that Shawn asked officials if he was just in a fight as he was being led to the box. If it’s true no one should want Shawn in a fight any time soon, potentially the rest of this season if we want to be really honest.
I have been struggling with the idea that I’m not being “mentally positive” and actualizing the notion we started this path upon. Worried I wasn’t throwing the right kind of energy out there that would help him recover. I seem to have an agreeable yet opposing attitude that everyone else is having (he’s tough, he’s fine, he’ll be back) because I have severely mixed emotions about those things.
I’m not afraid he’s going to die tomorrow or later on, I never got caught up in the enforcer death media drama. I don’t worry about that. Doesn’t change the fact that brain injuries from fighting can kill you. If/when he comes back he’s going to be in fights. I’m not ok with this, but my opinion hardly matters right?
The other day Justin from Days of Yorr mentioned that half of Shawn’s pictures on the web are of him fighting, the other half are of him doing charity “like a boss.” I responded by saying I didn’t know which side of him I liked more and that he looks likes he’s saving the world when he’s at the hospitals. And he is. I really believe that. The psychological benefit that’s provided (to both parties) can change lives. One of the P-Bruins just recently shared a fantastic story about his visit to a children’s hospital and the major revelation he had (Robins?). Good stuff.
I didn’t give Justin a decisive response. This was in the days before the Scott fight and selfishly I was leaning towards Shawn’s fighting side. Figuring this season is short, next is probably his last, and the fact that I only get to go to a couple games a year I was overly concerned with the very limited amount of times I’d get to watch him do what he’s so good at and what we love him for. What seems like moments later, in the DOY blog about Shawn’s concussion announcement my response was this:
"I’m totally having that movie girlfriend moment where I don’t want to support my fighter boyfriend going back at it after a bad loss but we all know I’ll still show up at the arena and cry and cheer. Get well soon Shawn."
I want him to get back up on the horse and not go out on a freak fight. But most of all I want him to make a smart decision for himself based on what’s most important. We all want that. If nothing else the night of 1/31/13 magnified that sentiment. It was so emotionally overwhelming that it was hard to see the silver lining right away. It’s definitely one of those moments where something good can come out of something really bad. We’ve all be asked to readjust what we find awesome about him. What we find individually will depend on what you thought was cool to begin with. I don’t think certain things are as entertaining as before. I hope to find out that I was right when I said he’s the last guy whose mentality you have to worry about. It’s the players who aren’t able to tell their careers to fuck off that you have to worry about.
As I went to bed last night I was still wrestling with the idea that I wasn’t being positive about his recovery or future and I knew that wasn’t true. My slowed down hurt brain just could not find the angle and it was so frustrating it brought me to tears. I don’t recommend crying while having a concussion headache.
I managed to get a good nights rest. Dreamt I was drinking shots with Seguin while playing board games. ??? But I woke up damn certain that I am being entirely positive about Shawn.
I have a definitive answer now to that observational split, I prefer his socially active/charitable side. I really do no care about what he does for the Bruins anymore. The frustration I suffered was not being able to admit that. I’m glad this happened before his assumed scheduled departure in 2014. I will cherish whatever time is left with Merlot but I can’t fucking wait till it’s over. I’m not being negative, I’m excited for whatever is next. I care about his life. It’s a huge surprise and never thought I’d say this:
Hey Shawn, your role as an enforcer sucks.
I will gladly square up in front of him and say that to his face and tell him to get that foundation going or whatever it is he briefly mentioned at the resurrection party. Ahem.
He’ll be wearing the same sweater, I’ll have a cell phone with a low battery that may or may not take pictures and we’ll have a laugh. The only things in life that should be repetitive are things that are enjoyable.