Bruins reflect on Welker's departure

BOSTON -- There’s a fraternity among professional athletes in Boston, so it was no surprise the topic of Wes Welker leaving the New England Patriots to sign a two-year, $12 million deal with the Denver Broncos was discussed in the Boston Bruins’ locker room Thursday morning.

“I think he played a lot of phenomenal years for them, and I’m sure they’re very grateful for the player he was while he was here,” said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, who is close with many Patriots players. “Maybe he needed a change. Maybe they needed a change. I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors, but I know it’s not going to be easy to fill those shoes.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien has been a long-time Patriots fan, even before he began working in Boston.

When asked what he thought about Welker leaving, Julien said: “Better left with ‘no comment’ because, honestly, you lose a good player but you also don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors with the organization. They must have had a reason to do it. I’m certainly not going to criticize the organization, but I liked him as a player.”