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Thornton vents on the airwaves

Bruins captain Joe Thornton has made no secret of his displeasure with the hooking, holding, clutching, and grabbing he's endured this season. Thornton's frustration boiled over after last Saturday's game in Pittsburgh, when he went public with his criticism of the officiating.

On Monday afternoon, he took it one step farther during an interview with Gino Reda of TSN (Canada's equivalent of ESPN), saying he'd consider hanging up his skates soon.

When Reda asked Thornton, "Does it make you seriously consider walking away from the game?" Thornton answered, "It's tough. Last week against Pittsburgh, I've never been so frustrated in my life. It was a tough day for me. I really look back on it and thought that hey, this might be my last year. It's not worth what the pain . . . my back is killing me and things like that. It's not worth the ordeal.

"But you don't want to be a whiner. You just want the game to be called how it is in the rulebook."

Bruins general manager Mike O'Connell hadn't heard the interview but downplayed Thornton's remarks, and added that he's never had any indication that Thornton is dealing with back problems. Asked if his captain was healthy, the GM said, "Absolutely. I wouldn't make too much of it. I think it's just Joe."

After last night's 4-3 victory over the Oilers, Thornton expanded on the comments about his back, saying, "I'm a tall guy, so I think I'll just always have back problems. I'm not sure what it is.

"Obviously, you play 82 games and it's a long season. I always seem to have the puck. I think it's just wear and tear, more or less.

"After morning skates, it usually loosens up and feels good for the games. Hopefully it stays that way. We have a good training staff and we'll keep on stretching it and maintaining it, so it shouldn't be a problem."

Thornton told Reda he feels the league is back to square one in terms of dealing with obstruction.

"We've all got those memos that they're going to crack down on the holding, clutching, and grabbing but I still haven't seen it yet this year," said Thornton. "It's the little things, it's the tug behind the net. Usually I try to work the puck behind the net and it's a little tug. It's the holding away from the play. They grab you when you're coming out from behind the net, it's things like that."

Asked by Reda if he has tried communicating his feelings to officials during games, Thornton said, "I've tried many of those days. It's, `You're big and strong, just stay on your feet and keep your legs moving and play through it.' When it's every game and they keep on telling you that, it gets frustrating. You just wish they were in your shoes for at least two or three shifts out there." Last night, Thornton said his objective in going public is to call attention to the situation so it will be addressed.

"I hope something comes out of it," he said. "I hope other guys, if they have a problem, they step up and talk about it, so I think that's how this thing is going to keep getting better. It's the best game in the world and we want to keep it the best game in the world."

If he had his druthers, he said he'd have every game be like last night's. Thornton said playing against Edmonton was a breath of fresh air compared with the trapping style of so many other teams.

"It's an enjoyable hockey game to watch," he said. "It was probably one of the most enjoyable games to play in, that high tempo, that freestyling kind of game. There was no clutching or grabbing."

Hot hands

With two assists against Edmonton, Mike Knuble extended his point-scoring streak to four games (two goals and five assists in that span) . . . Glen Murray also had an assist, stretching his streak to four games (two goals and two assists) . . . Former University of New Hampshire standout Ty Conklin was in net for the Oilers.

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