Editor’s note: NESN.com is running a five-part series on Shawn Thornton this week. Part V looks at his first four seasons in Boston.
Shawn Thornton was a Stanley Cup champion, but he didn’t have any security in the NHL.
But after helping the Anaheim Ducks win the title in 2007 and hitting the free-agent market that summer, Thornton did have options. The best of which brought him to Boston. Or at least it did once Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli finally got a hold of Thornton on July 1.
“I was actually at a fishing tournament,” Thornton said. “I don’t fish, but I was doing a charity thing, and they couldn’t get a hold of me until 3 in the afternoon, might have been even later than that. I don’t think they were very happy that I was fishing on July 1 when the team was trying to get a hold of me. So I got off the boat — we won the fishing tournament, by the way — and I jumped in my car and drove straight to my agent’s office and signed the contract, then went home and celebrated.”
The Bruins’ pitch beat out offers from Chicago and San Jose, with Thornton earning a one-way deal with guaranteed NHL money for the first time on a three-year deal with Boston.
“They were both at two years and Peter stepped up and said three years and I said, ‘Perfect. I’m sick of moving around,’” Thornton said. “It seemed like a good fit. Cam [Neely] called and told me what the city was all about and the passion that it has, the kind of players they embrace and it was all good.”
Thornton’s temperament on the ice and personality off it made him a natural fit in Boston, but Thornton didn’t know anything about his new city when he signed. He had never even played a game in Boston, and visited the city just once, taking the train down from Lowell during his AHL days.
Editor’s note: NESN.com is running a five-part series on Shawn Thornton this week. Part II looks at his days in junior.
Shawn Thornton was certain there had been a mistake.
He had gone to the 1995 Ontario Hockey League draft planning only to sign a tryout agreement with the London Knights once the draft had been completed. He never actually expected to get picked. And even after his name was called, the future two-time Stanley Cup champion had his doubts.
“I went to the OHL draft to sign a walk-on with the London Knights,” Thornton said. “I walked out of the bathroom and my name was on the board. I literally had to go grab my friend’s book to see if there was another Shawn Thornton in there because I didn’t think it was me.”
But Thornton had caught the eye of one scout, with Peterborough general manager Jeff Twohey happening to see Thornton in a midget tournament in Hull, Quebec. Twohey was waiting to watch the final game in the tournament, but Thornton’s showing in a fight in the earlier game grabbed his attention. Twohey planned to take a chance on the young tough guy, but first he had to make sure Thornton was even eligible.
“Shawn was eligible for two years and was passed over,” Twohey said. “He’d been cut from every Junior B team in the area where he lived in Oshawa, so to make him eligible for the draft a third time I had to add his name to the draft list.”