BOSTON, MA -- Prior to Monday night's game, when asked if his negotiations with potential free-agent forward Shawn Thornton were easy, Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli joked, "Nothing's ever easy with Thorty."
But after the game, when No. 22 was asked about staying in Boston, the newly re-signed Thornton insisted that the decision to remain a Bruin was an easy one.
"Yeah, definitely," said the winger in the wake of the B's 8-0 win over the Oshawa, Ontario-native's hometown Maple Leafs -- the team that drafted him in the seventh round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. "It took a little time, but I’ve always said I wanted to stay here in Boston – it’s home now.
"I’m very, very happy to get this done and be around for a couple more years."
A fan favorite in his adopted home -- thanks to his charitable works and the uncharitable way he treats opponents -- the people of greater Boston have made it abundantly clear to the B's beat cop (who going into Monday night, Thornton led the league with 19 fighting majors) that they appreciate his work on behalf of the Bruins, both on and off the ice.
"I think I’ve said it a million times how great the city’s been to me and the people here," said Thornton, originally signed by Boston in the summer of 2007. "The fans – that’s the easy part, they’re amazing to me all the time."
But when push came to shove, Thornton said that it's his teammates that made it worthwhile for him to re-sign with the Black & Gold.
"Obviously it's my team first," he said, when asked to name reasons to stay with Boston. "The guys are a great bunch of guys.
"And it’s a team that’s building with a lot of youth –- myself excluded obviously –- but I think they have a bright future here going forward and I’d like to be in an environment like this."
And for Thornton, that environment became even easier to negotiate, thanks to the simple stroke of a pen.
"I’m not going to lie to you it’s a little weight off the shoulders," admitted Thornton. "But I think myself and the guys that haven’t had it done yet, have done a pretty good job focusing throughout the season.
"It wasn’t a distraction," added Thornton. "But it’s definitely a little easier when you know you’re going to be somewhere for a few years."
B's Head Coach Claude Julien wouldn't be surprised to hear Thornton's words.
"I think everybody knows that Shawn will come to play every night, play hard, and go to his team’s defense," said Julien. "When it’s time to get ready for a game, he’s making sure that he’s ready, he’s making sure people around him are ready.
"He’s got a job that’s not an easy job, and anyone who’s played this sport, who’s watched the sport close enough, knows how tough it is to go and do the job that he does every night, and that’s, whenever we get pushed around or we’re behind and we need a wake-up call, and all of a sudden, he goes, and he takes charge," continued Julien. "He’s never told to do it; he just does it on his own. He knows his role extremely well, and for him to be rewarded with a new contract is worthy of his work.
"I’m glad to see that he’s here for a couple more years at least."