|Thornton (AP Photo) |
After all summer is time for R&R and Thornton -- one of the B's most intense competitors -- deserves a little relaxation.
"Golf is not very relaxing for me actually," said Thornton, with a Cheshire cat grin, last week.
But, of course, Monday's tour of the links is not really about golf or relaxation at all. Thornton will be fighting again. This time, however, Boston's on-ice beat cop, is trading punches with a viscous disease.
The American Parkinson Disease Association explains the disease:
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system affecting more than 1.5 million people in the United States. Clinically, the disease is characterized by a decrease in spontaneous movements, gait difficulty, postural instability, rigidity and tremor. Parkinson's disease is caused by the degeneration of the pigmented neurons in the Substantia Nigra of the brain, resulting in decreased dopamine availability. The major symptoms of the disease were originally described in 1817 by an English physician, Dr. James Parkinson, who called it "Shaking Palsy." Only in the 1960's, however, pathological and biochemical changes in the brain of patients were identified, opening the way to the first effective medication for the disease.
Unfortunately, Parkinson's disease has already hit home for Thornton and his family.
"My grandmother had Parkinson’s," said Thornton, who explained that she fought the disease for over a decade.
"She passed away the December before last...so I’ve always tried to give back a little to [fight] Parkinson’s and I thought this would be a good opportunity to get a golf tournament going since I’m around all summer anyways.
"I approached Swoop [Bob Sweeney, director of the Boston Bruins Foundation] during the year...about getting something done. But I wanted to wait and see what happened with my contract situation and once that got ironed out we really put the pedal down with trying to get this tournament going," continued Thornton. "[The Foundation has] been doing a great job at putting this thing together. We haven’t done anything like this before so they’ve been a big help."
Helping the community is something that Thornton, and most of his hockey playing brethren, feel is as inherient to their position as skating.
"It’s easy for us it’s not much and it means so much to other people. I think it’s a no-brainer," he said. "I think we have a pretty good team – a lot of guys give back and it’s not just me.
"I think the guys do a great job of really helping out around the community. I’m just trying to do my part while I’m playing and I have a bit of a name, why not put it towards something?"
|Shawn is excited about the coming season. |
Thornton's thoughts turned towards the ice as he talked about the Black & Gold. He talked about the coming season and the pride that he hopes his fellow Bruins take when they don their sweaters.
"Well I think there is an identity – and should be an identity – when you put that jersey on as far as the way you should be playing," said Thornton. "I think throughout spurts of last season we didn’t have that enough.
"Now, we brought it together when we needed to for that last stretch in the first round and half of the second round.
"But it wasn’t enough. I think I’m disappointed with the way things ended and I wont forget that."
Thankfully, the B's won't have long to wait before they're back on ice. And unlike last season, when the Bruins had the Winter Classic smack dab in the middle of the scedule, this year, the big event
actually begins the season when the Black & Gold head to Europe to play exhibitions in Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic before they face off against Phoenix in Prague for the first two games of their NHL schedule.
"I didn’t think the Winter Classic was that much of a distraction to tell you the truth. It was a really really cool event to be a part of. I was excited to a part of it, it is a once-in-a-lifetime event," said Thornton. "But I think I’m excited to go over to Belfast and Prague.
"I’ve been to Prague before, so I’m more excited to be going to Belfast...[and] I’m hoping it will be a great experience with the guys coming together and having fun with it.
"With that, I don’t really know what to expect. I could probably give you a better answer afterwards. I know it’s a lot of travel but then again we’re a group for however many days it is, 10 or 11 days but I think that helps the start of the season."
Thornton pointed out that during his B's career, season-opening trips have helped the Bruins to come together quickly as a squad.
"Halifax was fun I think the guys enjoyed going on that trip," said Thornton of the Bruins opening exhibition run in 2008-09. "Even though in Halifax there were a lot of games in a short amount of days I think the guys really had fun together in that city. We came together as a team.
"In California my first year out here (2007-09) for a seven-day road trip that really helped our guys come together.
"I think team building in that way it a good thing I’m looking forward to it."
2 dogs -- a Vizsla and an Itlalian Greyhound
7 NHL Seasons
8th hole at Pebble Beach: Thornton's favorite
22 jersey number
32 years old
190th pick in the 7th round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by Toronto
290 NHL games
496 NHL penalty minutes
2007 Stanley Cup champion with the Anaheim Ducks." Thornton by the Numbers
Thornton's family actually hails from Belfast.
"My Mom (Christine) was born in Belfast, my Mom’s older sister. My grandmother who passed away from Parkinson’s (Maureen Mills) she was also born there and grew up there.
"I’ve met some of [the family] before...but I’m going to try and make en effort to see people if we have time anyways."
Effort is not a problem for Thornton, and Bruins fans will be pleaased to note that the B's primary pugilist is already preparing for 2010-11.
"I mean, it’s not as easy as you get older," he said. "You have to work twice as hard I feel to stay in shape the way you were when you’re 25.
"So it's six days a week, 7-8 workouts a week -- maybe more -- trying to get in the best shape possible for the season."
And while Thornton hasn't been on the ice yet, he has been in The Ring -- a boxing gym on Commonwealth Avenue near the famous Paradise Rock Club.
"I’m in the ring, a few times [a week]," said Thornton. "Tommy, Mac, and Ernie, we’ve been paring the last few week and they’ve been kicking my [rear end]."
Meanwhile, Thornton is bides his time, and enjoys his free time in Boston.
"Not much right is going on right now," said Thornton. "I go around town, have dinner, and stuff like that.
"Being America’s guest at the golf course of the summer is probably the best thing about being here all summer. And Fenway.
"But I've been kind of just a homebody for the last couple weeks just laying low and getting ready for this golf tournament coming up on Monday."