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Shawn Thornton intends to work in business, not media, after playing days end 08.09.16 at 11:16 am ET
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Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton

Last offseason, Tuukka Rask let it slip during the annual NESN/WEEI Jimmy Fund radio-telethon, but then again, it didn’t seem to be a much of a secret: The 2015-16 season would be Shawn Thornton’s last in the NHL.

The news didn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as Thornton was entering the final year of his contract with the Panthers and, given that the league was moving away from his style of player, the likelihood that a team would pay him for his age 39 season seemed slim.

Calling himself a “realist,” Thornton had told his friends that his career was in its final months. In fact, the former Bruin had booked a retirement golf trip consisting of nine days in Ireland and a week in Scotland for this summer.

Then again, Thornton was playing for the Panthers. As Jaromir Jagr can attest, they like old guys down there. In February, the Panthers offered him a deal for the 2016-17 season.

“When they offered another year, I sprained my finger signing the thing before they changed their minds,” Thornton said Monday at his Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament.

Thornton still made the Ireland trip (“It probably took years off my life,” he quipped) but canceled the Scotland portion. After all, he’s now got to prepare for the last season of his career, and this time it figures to actually stick.

It’s the aftermath of that season where things get interesting. After years of putting in his time on Comcast SportsNet New England and working as a guest analyst for NBC Sports during the 2015 playoffs, Thornton had intended to work in the media after his playing days ended. However, a good relationship with Panthers management has inspired him to reverse course, and instead he expects to take a job with the Panthers on the business side upon retiring from playing.

“As we know, things change year-to-year — this would have been a different conversation last year — but as of right now I think I’m probably leaning more towards the business side of hockey,” he said. “Once the season’s over, I’ll probably move into that role in Florida.”

Added Thornton: “Media, I did a lot and that’s exactly where I thought I was going to end up going, but if the opportunity is still there to get into learning something new in the business side of sports, I just see a ton of upside to that for longer in life.”

Thornton, who has a home in Charlestown, had said after the team opted not to sign him in 2014 that he would remain a resident of Charlestown regardless of where he played. Now, he admitted, an office job in Florida would force him to “re-evaluate things.”

The real shame of it is that it doesn’t seem he’ll pursue his acting career.

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Informal skates beginning to fill out for Bruins 09.08.15 at 4:03 pm ET
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Torey Krug

Torey Krug

WILMINGTON — With rookie camp just days away and training camp next week, the group taking the ice for informal skates at Ristuccia Arena is filling out.

After a three-day break from the sessions for the long weekend, Tuesday’€™s skate saw a number of newcomers join a group of Bruins who had been skating at the practice facility for over a week. Among the new additions Tuesday were Torey Krug, Brett Connolly, Joe Morrow, Max Talbot, Matt Irwin, Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, Jeremy Smith and Jukub Zboril.

Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Patrice Bergeron were absent, as they’€™re in Toronto for the NHL‘€™s media tour. The following Bruins players and prospects were on the ice Tuesday:

Forwards: Zac Rinaldo, Brett Connolly, Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Brian Ferlin, Chris Kelly, Max Talbot, Loui Eriksson, Joonas Kemppainen, Anton Blidh, Austin Czarnik, Frank Vatrano, Ben Sexton, Colton Hargrove

Defensemen: Dennis Seidenberg, Joe Morrow, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug, Matt Irwin, Jakub Zboril

Goalies: Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre, Jeremy Smith

Non-Bruins present at the skate included free agents Daniel Paille and Lee Stempniak. Shawn Thornton was there as well. He can legally hang around the Bruins until next Thursday when training camp begins, and it would come as no surprise if he did just that.

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Shawn Thornton unsure whether he’ll retire after coming season 08.11.15 at 11:25 am ET
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Thirty-eight-year-old Shawn Thornton is entering the final year of a two-year deal with the Panthers. He doesn’€™t know if it will mark the end of a long playing career.

“It’€™s tough to [say],” Thornton said Monday. “I don’€™t know. I’€™m OK either way. Going into my 19th year pro, for my job, I’€™m very happy with what’€™s happened over my career. I’€™m OK if I have to shut her down. If I have a tough year and that’€™s it, then so be it. If I happen to have a good year and things work out and somebody wants to give me a paycheck for another year, I’€™m more than happy to [keep playing].

“I love competing. I love staying in shape. I love the game, I love being around the guys. I’€™ve said if before: I’€™ll play until they rip the skates off me. If that happens to be [next] summer, then it is. If it happens to be the summer after, even better.”

Though he has been an NHL regular for the last nine seasons, Thornton has been playing professionally since 1997-98, his first of four seasons with the St. John’€™s Maple Leafs of the NHL. Out of 19 professional seasons, this will be the third in which he makes $1 million or more. He made just over a million in 2013-14 before taking a deal with Florida that pays him $1.2 million annually.

Thornton, who lives in Charlestown, plans to work in the media after his playing days are done. He has good relationships with both sports radio stations and both sports television channels in town. He got a head-start on his future career by working as on-air talent with Comcast SportsNet late in his Bruins career.

He added to his post-playing resumé in the spring when he worked as an analyst for NBC Sports’€™ coverage of the NHL playoffs, working alongside Mike Milbury and Keith Jones. While Thornton found the work challenging, he said it reaffirmed his desire to make it a profession in the coming years.

“That was an experience,” Thornton said. “I liked it. I really liked it. The second night was probably a little bit better than the first. [I was] a little bit more settled in. [It was] a little nerve-wracking, I’€™m not going to lie to you. I didn’€™t go to broadcasting school, so it’€™s a little different when the cameras are right on you.

“But those guys were great helping out. It was great to try it. Jonesie and Millbury were really, really good about in between takes, giving me some advice here and there. I really enjoyed it.”

Thornton politely passed when reminded he could always try to become beat writer.

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Bruins past and present don’t understand why Dougie Hamilton wanted trade from Boston 08.10.15 at 1:42 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

MIDDLETON — Summer Tuukka Rask is different than the one we’€™ll see in the fall, winter and spring. Summer Tuukka Rask isn’€™t as fiery, perhaps because he isn’€™t at work.

As such, when he said that he isn’€™t concerned about the state of the Bruins’€™ defense — a group that made his life hard last year before it lost Dougie Hamilton — his outlook should be taken with a grain of salt.

“I don’€™t think there’€™s a reason to worry,” Rask said of Boston’€™s defense Monday at Shawn Thornton‘€™s Putts and Punches for Parkinson’€™s golf tournament. “I haven’€™t been worried.”

Rask knows better than anybody how much the Bruins needed to improve on the back end, as his play had to make up for a rough season on the blueline. Between having to play nearly every time the B’€™s took the ice (70 of 82 games) and facing tougher challenges as a result of the team’€™s defense, Rask was overworked as a result of the team’€™s shortcomings.

So when Boston’€™s defense lost Hamilton, a 22-year-old restricted free agent who wanted out, it would have been understandable for the 2014 Vezina winner to head to the dairy section of his local grocer and go H.A.M. on some milk crates.

Instead, Rask took an it-is-what-it-is attitude when asked about Hamilton’€™s trade to the Flames.

“Obviously I was surprised,” Rask said. “I think everybody was surprised, but there’€™s always the truth somewhere. I haven’€™t heard what happened, but if he felt like he had to move on, he had to move on.”

While there was something (however small) to the chatter that Hamilton wasn’€™t the most popular guy in the Bruins’€™ dressing room, it would have been hard for Hamilton’€™s teammates to take issue with the way he played. Hamilton was clearly Boston’€™s second-best defenseman behind future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara and he was in line to eventually take the torch from Chara as the next in a long line of great Bruins blueliners.

Hamilton’€™s fit with his teammates was not a big deal in the Bruins’€™ eyes, which is evidenced by the fact that they tried to re-sign him. Whether it was his teammates, the city or coach Claude Julien, it has not been made clear why Hamilton wanted to leave.

“I thought he felt comfortable with everybody,” Rask said, “but what you feel deep inside is a different thing and he felt like he needed to move on.”

Thornton laughed off a question about the Hamilton situation by saying he didn’€™t care, but he admitted he found the departure to be a bit odd.

“Listen, I’€™m a little surprised,” Thornton said. “I loved Boston, obviously, and for someone to want to get out of it, I don’€™t get it ‘€” especially in the first few years. But it’€™s his world. He had decisions to make and that’€™s the one he made. Hey, hopefully he’€™s happy in Calgary.”

The Bruins received a very underwhelming package of three draft picks in exchange for Hamilton, who will co-star on a terrific blue line in Calgary. The deal did not help the Bruins for 2015-16 at all, as the team used the three picks on prospects Zachary Senyshyn (15th overall), Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (45th overall) and Jeremy Lauzon (52nd overall).

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Shawn Thornton on MFB: ‘[Boston] is still home and I love it here’ 07.13.15 at 12:51 pm ET
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Former Bruin and current Panthers forward Shawn Thornton joined Middays with MFB on Monday from the Red Sox Foundation charity golf tournament at Belmont Country Club to discuss his time with the B’s and his opinion on the NHL‘s new rules on fighting. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Thornton discussed how the Bruins fan base motivated him and why he continues to call Boston home.

“I love the passion,” Thornton said. “I’ve always tried to self-motivate. If you’re a professional, you should show up to work either way. I didn’t miss the winter, I miss the fans, I miss the city and I’m back here for the summer. … This is still home and I love it here.”

When asked about the tendency of teams in the NHL to move toward smaller, skilled lineups as opposed to the roster construction of the Big Bad Bruins, Thornton maintained his faith in the success of physical teams.

“I don’t really pay attention to a lot of what’s said,” Thornton said, “but I saw, I think it was somebody in LA, the assistant GM or something, people were asking him sort of the same type of question, I think. … He said, ‘We take a step back and look, are we a team that made the playoffs this year or are we a team that’s contended in the last five years? And we’ve answered yourself as being closer to a team that’s contended in the last five years.’ They brought in [Milan Lucic], they kind of still play the big, bad — I mean, when you play against LA, you’re in one. It’s physical, they keep coming and coming and coming. And they went to the finals whatever, four times, however many times.

“Listen, we in Boston lost to Montreal and it was Armageddon, and people said, ‘You can’t win running people over anymore, you’ve got to be small and skilled.’ They forgot, LA won that year with the biggest, baddest team in the league. But it all got forgotten because we lost.”

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Former Bruin Shawn Thornton on MFB: ‘I really don’t care’ what’s going on in B’s locker room 03.30.15 at 12:36 pm ET
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Former Bruins and current Panthers winger Shawn Thornton joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss the NHL playoff race. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Bruins are in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they are only three points ahead of the Senators (who have a game in hand) and four ahead of Florida.

“I haven’t been following [the Bruins] much at all, to be honest,” Thornton said. “Obviously, the points race, we follow if they win or lose because we’re four behind them and we play them twice. But I haven’t been watching their games or anything. … We’re making it interesting, that’s for sure.”

Added Thornton: “We’re aware of the situation that we can’t lose either of those games [against the Bruins]. … We’re giving ourselves a chance.”

The first of the two games between Florida and the Bruins will be in Boston on Tuesday night. It will be the second time Thornton will play at TD Garden since leaving Boston after last season.

“It’s still a little different,” Thornton said. “Playing in that building for seven years on one side and then playing on the other, it’s a little different.”

Thornton was a leader on and off the ice during his time with Boston. Recently, with Thornton gone, the Bruins’ dedication and effort has been questioned by management, as many players have not lived up to their expectations.

“To be completely honest, guys, I really don’t care,” Thornton said when asked about the B’s struggles. “I have my locker room I have to worry about, I can’t be worried about what’s going on in theirs.”

Whether it’s the Bruins, Ottawa or Florida, Thornton believes that the eighth seed in the East will have a chance to upset the top seed.

“Once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen,” Thornton said.

For more Bruins news, visit the team page at

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Shawn Thornton on Sunday Skate: ‘I’m hoping [Bruins] absolutely tank because I want to make the playoffs, but I can’t see it’ 02.15.15 at 11:56 pm ET
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Hours before the Panthers further closed in on the Bruins for what is currently the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Shawn Thornton joined Sunday Skate to discuss his team’€™s odds of catching the B’s. To hear the interview, click here.

With a shootout loss to the Blues Sunday, the Panthers improved to 24-19-12, bringing them within three points of the Bruins for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins have lost three straight games in what’€™s been a big step back for a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy last season. Thornton said he figured the Panthers would push for a spot, but he didn’t think the Bruins would fall to where they have.

“Honestly, I thought they’€™d be in the top three right now, to be completely honest,” Thornton said of the Bruins. “I did think that we’€™d be pushing for a playoff spot with the players we have, especially after being here. … I thought there’€™d be a couple other teams we’€™d be chasing, not them. Who knows? There’€™s still [27] games left. There’€™s a lot of hockey left.”

Florida could have surpassed the B’€™s by now, but they were losers in two straight entering Sunday’€™s game. Thornton said the Panthers themselves have “found ways to shoot [themselves] in the foot” of late, saying Florida hasn’€™t properly ‘€œtaken advantage of the situation’€ in front of them with the Bruins losing.

The longtime Bruin, who was not brought back in the offseason and signed a two-year deal with the Panthers, said he keeps in touch with his friends on the Bruins. Asked his thoughts on why so many players have underperformed, he said he’€™s watched “maybe five periods” of Bruins hockey this season.

“I can’€™t give you a definite answer of what’€™s going on there,” he said. “I don’€™t ask about that stuff. I don’€™t want to know.”

Despite the Bruins’€™ struggles, Thornton said he doesn’t expect them to go away this season.

“I’€™m hoping they absolutely tank because I want to make the playoffs, but I can’€™t see it happening,” he said with a laugh. “œI can’€™t see it happening with the core group of guys they have there, the goaltending. They went through a lot of injuries earlier in the season, too. When you lose your top defenseman and your top centerman, I don’€™t know how many teams in the league can get through that.”

Thornton said that if the Bruins and Panthers were to meet in a series, the Bruins would hold the edge in experience over the young Panthers, whose top points leaders are 22 years old or younger.

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