Thornton signs 2-year, $2.4M deal with Panthers

Thornton signs 2-year, $2.4M deal with Panthers
July 1, 2014, 2:00 pm
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The leader in the clubhouse for Shawn Thornton was undoubtedly the Florida Panthers once the Boston Bruins severed ties with their fourth line enforcer, and it took about 90 minutes for the Panthers and Thornton to come together on July 1. The longtime B’s tough guy got a raise in Florida from GM Dale Tallon, and signed a two-year, $2.4 million deal with the Panthers that will see the 36-year-old right winger finish out his career in the Sunshine State.

The signing makes sense given that Thornton broke into the NHL through the Blackhawks organization when Tallon was a ranking member of the Chicago front office, and the two had a strong relationship based off those beginnings. Clearly the Panthers were going after some grit and toughness in signing both Thornton, and center Dave Bolland to a five-year deal that will pay him $5.5 million per season.

Thornton has long said he wanted to play two more years in the NHL, and the leadership intangibles along with his snarl will be beneficial to a talented, young Florida Panthers team in need of direction.

“I was very, very lucky to be a member of this organization, and be a part of this city too. We loved it here. It’s been amazing. It couldn’t have been any better,” said Thornton to when he was informed he wasn’t returning to the Bruins after seven years. “From the people [in Boston] to the style that the team played, everything was above and beyond what I could have expected.

“I feel better going into this offseason than I did last offseason health-wise. I don’t see why I can’t keep playing for a couple of more years. My body is saying that I can keep playing for a few more years. With everything in my training I feel the same as I did four years ago. Last year was the hardest ever because I couldn’t train the way I wanted to. I feel like I can still contribute, and everybody was happy with the way I was playing when I was out there.”

Thornton won a Cup in 2011 with the Bruins and was part of a great run for the Merlot Line with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, but last season was a difficult for the B’s enforcer. Between the 15-game suspension for the Brooks Orpik attack and the water bottle incident with P.K. Subban in the playoffs, perhaps both the Bruins and Thornton are better served with a change of scenery.

One thing not in doubt: Thornton touched many lives during his seven seasons with the Bruins, and will get one of the loudest returning ovations when the Florida Panthers travel to TD Garden on Nov. 4 for the first time next season.