has not been a Bruin for long, but he has wasted no time immersing himself in his new community.
On his first trip to the Hub of Hockey since signing with the B’s in July, Shawn took a trip out to Franklin, Massachusetts to host a street hockey clinic with the kids of the Hockomock Area YMCA Summer Camp.
If, for some reason, anyone thought that this enforcer is too tough for this kind of job, then all they needed to do is spend a few minutes with Thornton off the ice to see that he has a softer side.
On the way there Thornton was clearly excited about his first community appearance -- although the nuances of Boston-area traffic and drive times are lost on the big winger.
“This is a short drive?” Shawn said, jokingly. “Are we in New York yet?"
“Seriously though, I can’t wait," he said. "I am excited to play some hockey with the kids. I have not gotten the chance to play street hockey since I was a kid myself and I am going to enjoy it, that’s for sure.”
Thornton’s excitement and love for the game was very apparent as soon as he arrived and after a short introduction he dove right into some basic hockey drills. Shawn paired up with one of the youngsters for some back-and-forth passing, before he demonstrated some of his right-wing skills while he showed the kids how to stick handle.
The campers joked around claimed that each of them was the fastest out on the floor, but one youngster flew through the cones with the puck (well, actually, a ball) on his stick so fast he even impressed Thornton.
“I did notice this one camper, who had never picked up a hockey stick before,” said Thornton. “And he was the best player out there.
"It was pretty impressive.”
During, the six-on-six scrimmage things really started to heat up. Shawn took turns playing on both sides of the ice (er, floor) and also took a couple of shots on goal, but the kids in net "kept" him off the score sheet.
“Well, I’ve never been known for scoring goals anyways, so I am glad I could make (the goalie) feel good about himself,” he deadpanned to a NESN camera afterward.
When the play came to a close, the campers gathered around for a short Q&A with Thornton, followed by an autograph session. Shawn said that he thought that the camp went pretty well and he was happy about his first activity as a Bruin.
“It was fun,” he said. “We had an awesome time all around.”
The campers had a blast, as well, and certainly did not take for granted having a professional in their midst.
“It is amazing to have an actual example, someone (the kids) see on TV – someone who has already proven himself at that level,” said one of the camp counselors. “To have that, it was way more than any of them could ask for (and) I don’t think they know that they have a Stanley Cup champion here with them today.”
Well, they did learn that important fact just a few minutes later during the Q&A.
One of the campers casually asked Shawn who he played for last season and how his team performed. When Thornton responded that he had just won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim, another camper shouted out, “That is like the World Series!”
Shawn responded, “Ya, but our trophy is better looking.”
Later, Thornton also explained to NESN what it was like to hold up the cup.
“It was amazing,” he mused. “It is an amazing feeling to hold the cup up over your head and give it a little kiss.”
For his part, Thornton is looking forward to the opportunity to help bring that feeling to Boston and he plans to do so with his “simple” style of play.
“Crash and bang,” he said of his game. “I stand up for my teammates.
"I help protect the other players like Savy (Marc Savard
) and Muzz (Glen Murray).
"I’ll let the other teams know that they won’t get pushed around,” he said.
But with training camp still over a month away, Thornton is concerned about the present. The clinic was not the only reason he came to Boston, and he hopes to find a place for him and his wife to live before they both fly back to Toronto on Thursday.
But not, of course, before he takes a trip to Fenway Park to watch the Sox take on the Orioles.
Boy, it didn't take long for Thornton to become a Bostonian, did it?