BOSTON — Prior to negotiating his new contract, Shawn Thornton expressed his desire to dawn the spoked B for the foreseeable future.
With the official announcement of his two-year contract extension Monday worth $2.2 million, Thornton got his wish.
“Everyone knows when the first offer was made, I guess it was in the media so it took little time,” said the 34-year-old veteran. “But I’ve always said I’ve wanted to stay here in Boston; it’s home now. I’m very happy to get this done and be around for a couple of more years.”
With a great mix of players in the locker room, and a bright future ahead of the team still just one year removed from their Stanley Cup victory, Thornton wanted to be a part of the atmosphere. Combine that with the support from his fellow Bostonians in the city and the desire to stay improved greatly.
“The guys are a great bunch of guys,” Thoronton said after last night’s 8-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. “It’s a team that’s built with a lot of youth — myself excluded obviously — but I think they have a bright future here and I want to be in an environment like this.
“I think I’ve said this a million times how great the city’s been to me and the people here,” Thornton continued. “Fans…that’s the easy part they’re amazing to me all the time.”
Since signing with the Black and Gold in 2007 — just a few weeks after capturing his first Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks — Thornton has always looked to improve every year from his conditioning to his role as a leader in the locker room.
Over his five seasons with Boston, Thornton has not only improved on all aspects, but he also became a steady force on the fourth line that has changed over time playing with linemates current (Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell) and past (Stephane Yelle, Glen Metropolit, Steve Begin and even Brad Marchand for some of last year).
“I remember distinctly back then that we wanted to get bigger and we wanted the experience, and Shawn came off a Stanley Cup,” GM Peter Chiarelli recalled on signing Thornton in 2007. “The thing I remember back then was he really protected the puck well for a guy who was limited on ice, and I knew I liked that. He’s gotten better at it, and I think his ability to drop the gloves is obviously something that helps us as a team. But he can play, too.”
“I think everyone knows that Shawn will come to play every night,” added coach Claude Julien, who arrived with Thornton after his one-year stint with the New Jersey Devils back in 2007. “He’s a good team player, he’s in that room, he works hard every day and he’s got a lot of good qualities. And I think he’s got some good leadership qualities in him.”
Chiarelli confirmed that Thornton’s contracts are the last negotiations before the summer for the other pending free agents, including Thornton’s merlot line compadres — Paille and Campbell (both UFA’s) — Chris Kelly (UFA) and Tuukka Rask (RFA) just to name a few. The Bruins GM noted that he wants all his players going forward to invest their stock into the rest of the season.
While the signing comes as a relief for Thornton, he admits that the contract negotiations for he and the other pending free agents haven’t been a distraction all year.
“I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a little weight off the shoulders,” he said. “But I think myself and the guys that haven’t had it yet have done a pretty good job focusing throughout the season. It wasn’t a distraction, but it’s definitely a little easier when you know you’re going to be somewhere for a few years.”