BOSTON -- Shawn Thornton's love for being a Bruin goes well beyond his wearing of the sweater every game night. Since he arrived in Boston as a free agent in the summer of 2007, Thornton has immersed himself in the culture and people of the Hub.
That immersion continued Tuesday when the Bruins' veteran right winger used his second day with the Cup to share it with the people of his "second hometown" of Charlestown and others that have become part of his life throughout the city.
"The people have been unbelievable to me ever since I got here," Thornton said.
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Thornton's day included much of the history that makes Boston and Charlestown unique. It started out at one of the last original bars in Charlestown, the Ironside Grill, which has been owned and operated by the same family since 1950. The line to pose for pictures with Thornton roped around the block well before 10 a.m. People skipping out of work and school brought their kids, pets and co-workers to try to get near Thornton and the Cup.
Even once the line was cut off, people hovered outside the restaurant to check out the Cup through the windows. While the trophy is an attraction wherever it goes, the combination of Thornton and the Cup have become particularly attractive to Charlestown residents who have adopted Thornton as one of their own as much as he's made himself part of that community.
"We're not as impressed about him being a Bruin as we're impressed by him being a nice guy," said Ironside Grill owner Denis Cantin.
After one limo and one party bus showed up, Thornton and his closest friends and family took the Cup on a quick-hit tour of the rest of Charlestown.
More history awaited when the caravan hit its next stop, as Thornton and Co., stopped off at the Warren Tavern for a quick beverage and some lunch to go. The Warren Tavern dates back to 1780 and was visited by the likes of Paul Revere and George Washington in revolutionary times. Tavern namesake Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill, was a friend of Revere's.
The whirlwind tour continued at McCarthy Brothers Liquors, which dates to 1888, and then to a bar that proved how enmeshed in the community Thornton really is. This establishment didn't have a sign on the outside façade and the inside was the size of an average living room. As it turned out, the locals all know the place as Old Sully's, and the folks inside and those that had either caught a glimpse of the caravan from the street or were following from previous stops enjoyed seeing Thornton carry it from the cars into and out of the bar. While maybe not as impressive historically as the Cup's previous few stops, one of Old Sully's claims to fame is its appearance in the Ben Affleck movie "The Town."
Once he'd made the all the stops he wanted in Charlestown, Thornton requested a road trip through the streets of downtown until the Cup and its followers reached another major historic icon of Boston: Fenway Park. Thornton has become a frequent guest at Red Sox games and a close friend of many of the Sox players over the last several years. He wanted to say thank you to many in the Sox ticket office who have helped him with arrangements when he's wanted to take in a ballgame.
Some at Fenway knew the Cup was coming and some obviously didn't. After a brief visit to the seats above the famed Green Monster, Thornton carried the Cup to the ticket office, where one employee asked "What's the Stanley Cup doing at my office?"
As it turns out, several Sox employees are also Bruins season ticket holders, so there's something of a kinship between the two organizations.
After some quick photos at Fenway, Thornton's last public stop was Children's Hospital. Like many of his teammates, Thornton wanted to share the joy the Cup seems to inspire everywhere to those battling disease and illness. The smiles on the kids' faces are always a highlight of any day like this.
"You see all the smiles on everyone's faces and that's pretty cool to see," Thornton said.
Most in Boston and Charlestown would agree that Thornton thought enough of his second hometown to share the Cup over the course of an entire day is pretty cool as well.