Shawn Thornton: “I never thought I’d play in the NHL, let alone win a Cup.”

On July, 1 2014 F Shawn Thornton shipped out of Boston and set his sights on South Florida, signing a two-year, $2.4 million contract. Thornton has been a well-known enforcer within the NHL for over a decade and has not only a wealth of experience that he’s gained through the years, but two Stanley Cup rings to boot. The 6’2″ 217 lb, bruiser spent seven seasons with the Boston Bruins and his leadership and hard work on and off the ice, as well as his intimidation factor were revered in the city of Boston.

Like in the summer of 2011, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon swam a couple of  laps in the Free Agency pool looking for the right pieces to the Florida puzzle during this summer, and made a splash signing six new players, including Thornton. A familiar face for Tallon, Thornton was a part of the Chicago Blackhawks during Tallon’s tenure in the Windy City. Looking for experience and toughness on a young Panthers team, Thornton and Tallon working out a deal seemed like a no-brainer.

“Florida was my first choice.” said Thornton, “I like where the team is going. He (Tallon) was talking about the moves he was going to make in the offseason. I obviously know Dale from Chicago. (We) Love the area. I’ve already been down a couple of times checking it out with the wife, and we’re really excited to be a part of it.”

Thornton, 37 is an elder statesman on a Panthers team whose core players are just reaching, or are barely at legal drinking age yet. The veteran winger knows his role within the team and sees the talent that this team possesses, some of whom he’s taken notice of since playing against them in the past.

“The skill level is obviously second to none. I was actually asking Tuukka (Rask) about (Aleksander) Barkov last year because I didn’t know much about him, but playing against him you definitely notice him. Playing against (Erik) Gudbranson the last couple years, he was extremely hard to play against. I knew every time I went into the corner there was going to be a rough one coming out. These guys are starting to come into their own, their young kids are starting to play the game the right way.”

A humble man, Thornton looks to be an approachable member of the team for the young guys, willing to instill his wisdom whenever need be.

“I never thought I’d play in the NHL, let alone win a Cup. I’m very fortunate where my career has taken me. (Willie) Mitchell and (Dave) Bolland have both won twice. We aren’t going to come into the locker room and say ‘this is how I did it’, ‘this is how I did it’ and ‘this is how I did it’. Kids ask questions, and they’d like to know what it’s about and some things that I may have picked up along the way. Any type of advice and experience I am more than happy to share.”

Off the ice, Thornton created the Shawn Thornton Foundation . Started up in 2013, Thornton’s foundation is dedicated to helping find cures for Parkinson’s disease and cancer. A proponent of a strong community presence, Thornton looks forward to getting involved in South Florida as he has done in the past with his previous teams.

“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve always tried to embrace the community. I think you get a better feel for people in the area when you’re out and about doing most things. I think we’re very, very fortunate to do what we do for a living. To take an hour out of our day a few times a month to put some smiles on faces is the least we can do.”

The enforcer from Oshawa, Ontario will be continuing his offseason training with a trip on Tuesday to Los Angeles, California where he will work with legendary Boxing Trainer, Freddie Roach. A Six-time Boxing Trainer of the year, Roach has worked with countless boxers including Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Miguel Cotto as well as several Mixed Martial Artists including Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, Tito Ortiz and Jose Aldo.

Although seen as a fighter on the ice, Thornton isn’t training for just fighting, but for the conditioning aspect that Roach instills in his program. Thornton views fights on the ice versus the ring as “a different animal”.

Thornton will bring a much-needed edge to the Panthers this season, and with his willingness to drop the gloves with anyone brave enough to return the favor, he could be a fan favorite in Sunrise just as he was in Boston.




Panther Parkway Headlines: Chicago Celebrates, Draft Picks Are Ready, Who’s Your Goalie Vancouver, And More.

chicago celebrates

I’m not sure where to start, but I will try to be brief.  When the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, I was a crying and giddy idiot.  I was teary eyed as I watched the entire parade on TV.  Seeing how happy the players were, and how excited the fans were made me feel as though I was right there with them.  I couldn’t stop talking about the whole season, and the entire Cup run, and how it was won in such dramatic fashion.  I appreciated it so much because you never know when you’ll get the next chance.  For the Hawks the chance to win it all was separated by 18 years (1992), when they lost to Pittsburgh.  In 2010 the team and the city erased 49 years of disappointment with that victory, and it was a celebration that will never be forgotten. 

This year was different in many ways.  Despite the lockout, which now seems like a distant memory, the Blackhawks put together a season for the ages.  The team led by Jonathan Toews, one of the best players in the game today, showed character, resiliency, and committment as the main components for their run for their second cup in four years.  Which still sounds hard to believe.  The depth of their roster, the ability to consistently roll four lines, and the mental capacity to stay determined proved how much they wanted this one.  Not like 2010 wasn’t wanted.  It was.  This time you could see and feel that no matter what the circumstance, they would not be denied.  Winning this year also proved they’re not a one hit wonder.  Their core players are young enough where they could win three cups before they’re 30 years old. The organization is truly all about winning, and they treat their players and fans with the utmost respect. 

This time, for me at least the win is about accomplishment, and validation.  For all the good things that happened to the Hawks during the season, none of it would have mattered had they not won the Stanley Cup.  As cool and calm as they were, I was equally the same.  Down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings, I put on what became my lucky t-shirt for the balance of the playoffs.  The “Bruce” shirt went 11-3 the rest of the way, with my confidence never wavering.  Just like my confidence in this Hawks team.  That so many players on both teams could battle through some of the toughest injuries, tells you how determined these players really are, and should teach many of us a lesson.  If you want something bad enough, you’ll do whatever it whatever it takes to get there.

 Congrats to the Boston Bruins for a well played series and season.  Congrats to the Chicago Blackhawks for reaching your goal, and congrats to a city that I will always call my home.   

Headlines after the page break [Read more…]

Is Kane Able To Rise To The Occassion One More Time?


One More Time.

In June of 2010 the Chicago Blackhawks were in the exact same position that they’ll be in tonight.  A chance to win the Stanley Cup on the opposition’s ice, and then celebrate with a victory parade at home with their fans later in the week.  I remember how I felt that day in June leading up to the game, as the time slowly ticked away throughout the day.  I was nervous, edgy, and unable to concentrate on work to my fullest.  I took nothing for granted that day, or night, and knew that it would be a battle till the end.  Patrick Kane scored the winning goal in overtime and 49 years of disappointment was erased for my hometown.

Tonight will be no different as the Hawks take on a rugged and equally determined Boston Bruins team that stands in the way of Chicago’s second Stanley Cup in four years.  There’s so much work to still be done, and so much can happen, that we may or may not have a winner this evening.  This Bruins team will not go down without a fight, and will throw everything they have at the Hawks in hopes of extending the series to a 7th game, which would then be at the United Center in Chicago Wednesday night.  Up to this point the series has provided the drama and storyline that we all had hoped for prior to its start, as two original six teams play for the toughest trophy in sports to win.

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Five Free Agent’s The Florida Panthers Can Target

With 15 games in the books so far and a record of 4-7-4 to show for it, the Florida Panthers are painting themselves in a corner with little margin for error.  The next five games on the schedule are going to tell us a great deal about the balance of the season.  Games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the road (back to back too), followed by three home games against Boston, Pittsburgh and Buffalo will be no walk in the park, especially the way Florida has been playing lately.  The only good news is that the Southeast Division is so weak, that the Panthers despite their dismal record are only five points off the division lead.  Regardless of that fact, it’s becoming blatantly obvious that the team needs something in order to help get them to the next level, whether that be this season, or next.

Dale Tallon has a five year plan, and last year’s division championship may have come a year or two early, in order for the Florida Panthers to excel and be a consistent playoff contender, ultimately challenging for the Stanley Cup, a proven player or two needs to be acquired.  We have drafted extremely well over the past two seasons, and have some of the brightest young players coming up the ranks in the future, yet we need at least one or two skilled players  to be mixed in with the current group. A top notch goal scorer or sniper if you will, and a hard working consistently producing forward would fill the bill.  Building through the draft, making a few trades, and signing key free agents are all part of the mixture.  Here’s five unrestricted free agents that deserve a look:

1) Ryan Getzlaf:  A true big center to finally lineup against everyone else’s top pivot man, Getzlaf has a superior skill set for someone with his size.  While he’s not as much of a goal scorer as a set up man, he can still put the puck in the net and get his share of goals.  He’s been fortunate to play with some gifted wingers like Corey Perry for example, allowing him to focus more on setting up rather than scoring.  Depending on who his linemates are, he could be a player who’s goals and assists are more even more if he takes more shots.  Currently making $5.325 million he may be out of our price range, and Anaheim might want to keep him.  Rumor has it he’s building or has built a house in that area, so he may be looking to stay.  It’s still worth a shot to make him an offer.

[Read more…]


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