Shawn Thornton’s Homecoming Was a Special Moment for Boston


Nov 4, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Florida Panthers right wing Shawn Thornton (22) skates on the ice during warm ups prior to the game against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

A capacity crowd of 17,565 Bruins fans stood as one Tuesday night to salute one of their own. Shawn Thornton made his return to Boston ice wearing an unfamiliar, red and yellow, Florida Panthers jersey.

The 7-season-Bruin was loved by the people of Boston, who could relate to Shawn Thornton’s blue-collar upbringing and playing style. Thornton was a locker-room-leader (arguably his absence may have been a reason for the Bruins early season struggles) and was one of the key players that brought the signature Bruin-style-hockey back to Beantown in the late 2000’s. “He’s definitely vocal in trying to pump up guys when he’s sitting on the bench, waiting, and when he’s on the ice, you know he’s giving everything he has, skating and hitting, and he’d do anything he can to get a win for us,” former line-mate Daniel Paille said in an interview prior to Thursday night’s tilt.

He gave his literal blood, sweat and tears to the B’s and had a significant presence in his Charlestown community. He was a man of the people, so much so that with one of his days with the Stanley Cup, following the Bruins’ 2011 victory, he paraded it through the city of Charlestown stopping at the Ironside Grill to share the Cup with fans. Thornton was also key in starting the Cuts for a Cause charity event hosted by The Shawn Thornton Foundation, the proceeds of which go to helping sick children in the Boston area. Thornton was truly a son of Boston, he may have have been an adopted one, but he was a son nonetheless.

This proved true once again Tuesday night. Seldom does a fourth-line-winger receive a hero’s welcome when facing his previous team for the first time, but once again Thornton broke the mold and received one of the loudest ovations of the night when he was announced by TD Garden Announcer Jim Martin prior to the puck drop.

During a TV timeout midway through the first period the Dropkick Murphys’ Warriors Code was played with a special video package filled with Thornton’s highlights during his time wearing the Spoked-B, thanking him for his time in Boston. While Thornton is no pushover by any stretch of the imagination, it was clear the feeling was mutual. Thornton has publicly expressed his love for the city, and has said that when his playing days are done, Charlestown will be where him and his wife call home.

Letting Shawn Thornton go last spring was like doing business with family, you know that business is business, but it still hurts. Thornton has made it known that he feels at home in Boston, and Tuesday night the people of Boston responded, Shawn Thornton will always be welcome.