Now that he's in his fifth season with the Boston Bruins
, gritty forward Shawn Thornton
probably has some casual fans that just jumped on the team's bandwagon while the team was on the cusp of its 2011 Stanley Cup championship or just after.
Considering Thornton has personified what it means to play "Bruins hockey" – with a combination of grit and determination that goes with skill – and his year-round presence in the Hub, Thornton has transformed himself into Boston's adopted son.
Now he'll be sticking around at least two more years beyond this season. The Bruins officially announced Monday that Thornton signed a two-year contract extension. The deal is reportedly worth $1.1 million per season. Thornton was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
"My family's happy not having to move and all that stuff (and) not having to wait around for July 1 to see what was going to happen," Thornton said. "I wasn't too concerned, but I'm very happy to get it done."
Although he was imported from Anaheim as a free agent prior to the 2007-08 season to provide the Bruins with some missing truculence, Thornton has been so much more than just a tough guy or energy player. Last season, he posted career highs with 10 goals and 20 points. So far this season, he has four goals and 12 points in 70 games. In addition, he leads the League with 19 fighting majors.
Thornton is also one of the team's more vocal leaders and last season was responsible for getting the Bruins' training staff to hang motivational pictures of Bruins championship teams of the past during the postseason run.
"Since we got Shawn, I don't know how many years ago, every year, to me, he's improved as a player, and I think that’s what's allowed him -- that and his conditioning has allowed him to be a good fourth-line player in this League and then a good catalyst in his own way," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "You see some of the skill that he has when he scores, when he makes some plays, but most importantly, you see the enthusiasm and the vigor that he brings to the rink every day, and that's important for this team and his character's important for this team.
"I'm happy to get him signed and I believe he just takes so much pride in his conditioning, and that's gotten better over the time when I've seen him. I think, without question, he'll be able to play well for two more years."