MIDDLETON (CBS) – Forward Shawn Thornton is more than a year removed from his departure from the Bruins that landed him with the Florida Panthers last season.
But the gritty contributor to Boston’s 2011 Stanley Cup championship and 2013 Eastern Conference championship teams is still contributing to New England.READ MORE: At-Home Rapid Antigen COVID-19 Testing Gaining Popularity Ahead Of Holidays
Thornton, who spends most of his offseason living in Charlestown, has made several community appearances in the Boston area this summer. And Monday he raised more money for Parkinson’s research with his sixth annual Putts and Punches golf tournament at Ferncroft Country Club.
Among the celebrities in attendance were Bruins all-time great Bobby Orr, goaltender Tuukka Rask and the newest Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes, who hails from Dorchester. Hayes played with Thornton last season with Florida. This summer the Bruins acquired Hayes from the Panthers in a trade for forward Reilly Smith.
Although they’ll clash as Atlantic Division rivals this season, Thornton lent Hayes a word or two of advice. Most important, Thornton said, is for Hayes to stay out of places he can be photographed doing unprofessional things. But Hayes should embrace playing in a hockey hotbed.
“It’s a great market. You’re definitely in it though and you don’t get away from it,” Thornton said. “He’ll be going to a coffee shop wherever he lives and he’ll be hearing about his game last night. And that’s completely different from Florida where you fly under the radar all the time. But he’s a smart kid. So he’s going to have to work hard. I talked to him about how the Bruins are built and how good a shape everyone is starting from [general manager] Don Sweeney all the way down. It’s probably the best-shape team I’ve ever seen, I’ve ever been on. It’s going to be a lot of hard work for him. It’s going to be a little bit different.”
Thornton believes Hayes’ game will suit the Bruins’ style and fill a need for his old team.READ MORE: 'This Is What Really Matters': Patriots TE Jonnu Smith Spreads Joy At Boys And Girls Club In Dorchester
“He’ll be a big body in front of the net on the power play,” Thornton said. “He’s going to get you 20 goals. He had 19 tap-ins last year just because he’s such a big body in front of the net. He’s got a good shot. When he plays physical, he’s very, very effective. He’s 6-6, 230 and he moves pretty well for a big guy, so he should fit in well.”
Like the Bruins, the Panthers missed the playoffs last season. Thornton said he’s witnessed a culture change with Florida in the past season and he’s excited for the upcoming season. He thinks the Panthers will be in the mix among playoff contenders in 2015-16. Entering the second year of his two-year contract, Thornton said he hasn’t made any decision about whether this will be his last season.
“It’s tough. I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know,” he said. “I’m OK either way. I’m going into my 19th year pro I think. It’s my job. I’m very happy with what’s happened over my career and I’m OK if I have to shut her down. If I have a tough year and that’s it, then so be it. But if I happen to have a good year and things work out and somebody wants to give me a paycheck for another year, I’d be more than happy. I love competing, I love staying in shape, I love the game and I love being around the guys. So I’ve said it before, I’ll play until they rip the skates off.”
Thornton did some analyst work for NBCSN during the playoffs last season. A career in broadcasting could be in Thornton’s future, so he has to start developing his ability to break down the game he’s played for two decades as a pro. When it comes to the Bruins, Thornton sees some differences and some similarities between the roster that featured Milan Lucic and Smith and the one that now boasts Hayes and Matt Beleskey.
“Obviously Looch has a skill set that probably no one else in the NHL does,” Thornton said. “So you take that away, there’s not too many guys that can score you 20, 30 goals a year and arguably be the toughest guy in the league. But that Matt Beleskey plays a hard game. Jimmy Hayes is a big body. I don’t know if it changed, but you’re definitely going to notice that Looch isn’t out there breaking glass when he hits guys.”
Although he was limited in what he could contribute on the ice for the Bruins, Thornton made the most of his role and the minutes he played. And his presence in the dressing room has been difficult to replace. Hayes couldn’t have asked for a better player to pass on guidance about making it big in Boston.MORE NEWS: Families Being Forced Out Of Malden Apartments By Charter School That Purchased Building
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.