Maine Hockey Journal

A couple of tough guys leave Portland.

Portland, ME – In the first two days of free agency, the Pirates have lost two of the toughest players to ever player for them in their 13 years in Portland.

Former Captain Shawn Thornton signed a multi-year deal with the Boston Bruins, while Trevor Gillies signed with the Carolina Hurricanes on opening day of free agency.

For Thornton, he becomes the second captain – Kent Hulst was the first – to leave the Portland Pirates for the Boston Bruins after he signed a two-year deal with the black and gold.

To lose Thornton isn’t really that big of a deal, because to be quite honest he never played in Portland except for 15 games. He was named captain to begin the year in Portland, but only played for one month before getting the call to Anaheim.

When Thornton was in Portland, he was a bit of a spark plug, helping the Pirates motor along with his attitude and his style of play, which is all-out when he was on the ice. He created traffic in front of the net doing all the dirty work, making the goalies life miserable.

In Anaheim, he played a fourth line role and played effectively as earned himself a regular spot with the Ducks by not necessarily scoring points, but doing the little things that impressed the coaching staff. In 48 games, he scored two goals, seven assists for nine points.

Where he fits in the Boston organization remains to be seen, it will be interesting to see if he can crack Boston’s lineup or if he find himself playing for Peebs.

The loss of Trevor Gillies for the Pirates will sting a little bit for sure not because of his point production, which was non-existent, but his attitude on and off the ice and his work within the Portland community.

Gillies signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes, which will pay him $475,000 at the NHL or $100,000 at the AHL level.

This is interesting when you think about it in terms of the salary cap and waivers.

For all intent and purpose, Gillies will be performing the same role as he did in Portland of protecting their skilled player for the Canes minor league team in Albany next season.

In Portland last season, he scored one goal and six assists for seven points in 51 games.

The cost for protecting the skilled players apparently has gone way up because he’s going to make $100,000, that’s pretty expensive for a bouncer. Obviously, he going to where he’ll make the most money with how short of a career an enforce has in professional hockey, but another interesting point is he will earn the maximum without needing to clear waivers, leaving himself with a option and better put a chance to see some action in Carolina.

From a community perspective, he will be a big loss. He’s work in the community was tireless from the time he spent at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and all the school visits, he made throughout the year. He was fan favorite is Portland, winning the Most Popular Player award last year by a large margin as voted on by the fans. Gillies also won the Ebright Award for exemplifying what it means to be a good Portland Pirates according to former owner, the late Tom Ebright.

For the Pirates, most likely he will be replaced by Mike Hoffman who was signed by the Ducks to a two-year contract last season. In the fans eyes, it will be big shoes to fill for Hoffman and it will be interesting to see if they adapt to a new fan favorite.

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