BELFAST — There is no overstating just how big a hit Shawn Thornton  has been since landing with the Bruins in Belfast on Thursday morning. Photographers and writers were eagerly awaiting his arrival as they stopped and asked him questions while he was still in the airport.
All of the hoopla, of course, is because Thornton’s mother was born in Belfast, hasn’t been there since she was six or seven by Thornton’s recollection, and will be in attendance — with 19 other family members — when the Bruins play the Belfast Giants /Elite League All Stars on Saturday. It will be a big moment for both Shawn and his family.
That’s where some of Claude Julien ‘s humor came into play. Julien said in Thursday’s preference that while discussing how ecstatic Thornton was to head to Northern Ireland, coach told his forward he would be doing so in a different capacity than expected.
“I think there’s no doubt he was the happiest of the bunch [when he found out the Bruins were going to Belfast,” Julien said. “This will eb his claim to fame right now, being here in his mom’s hometown. He’s been excited. I’ve seen it in his face for a few days, so I told him he’d enjoy watching the game from the stands on Saturday.”
How did he take the news?
“He lost his smile there for a few seconds until he realized I was joking around.”
Thornton is currently switching in and out of the fourth line with Brian McGrattan.