The Fighter: Inside Thornton's ring

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The Fighter: Inside Thornton's ring

Shawn Thornton didn't have much choice in the matter.

He was a young player in a preseason camp when he was told he would be a forward, not a defenseman as he had been his entire career. Lined up against a more established tough man in a scrimmage, Thornton soon found himself dropping his gloves.

"It was a good fight," said Thornton. Like that, an enforcer was born.

"I kind of got thrown into that role," he told CSNNE's Carolyn Manno. "If I wanted to move on and not go back to my hometown and go to community college, it was 'Do what you have to do.' It's been like that ever since."

Fifteen years after his first camp, Thornton has established himself as the muscle for one of the NHL's best teams, the Boston Bruins. Still, after all the fights, his role doesn't come naturally.

"I drink a boat load of coffee and put my head in a different space," he said. "I have to put my head in a different space to be able to do it."

He also has to be in exceptional physical condition, which has taken more work as the rounds of his career draw on.

To keep up with the league's younger pugilists, he trains -- predictably -- at a boxing gym in downtown Boston. The workouts last for an hour and go at a breakneck pace: three-minute intervals, with one minute of rest in between.

"Boxing's one of the toughest workouts around," said Thornton's trainer, Tommy McInerny, who also works at Sports ClubL.A. in downtown Boston. "He gives me 140 percent every time."

It shows.

"Our coach can put him on the ice for 10-12 minutes a game sometimes," said Bruins president Cam Neely, "which is unusual for some other players in that particular role."

In July, Thornton received a two-year contract extension to remain with the Bruins. He likes his team, and though he didn't choose it all those years ago, he likes his job.

"I feel good where I am," Thornton said.

Beleskey, Spooner and McQuaid highlight Bruins lineup vs. Red Wings

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Beleskey, Spooner and McQuaid highlight Bruins lineup vs. Red Wings

The Bruins announced their lineup for the second preseason game on Wednesday night at home against the Detroit Red Wings, and it was slightly more veteran-laden than the youthful Boston group tapped for Monday night’s opening loss to the Blue Jackets.

Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Adam McQuaid and Dominic Moore lead the grizzled group of Bruins players readying for the exhibition tilt against their Atlantic Division rivals, and 19-year-old Zachary Senyshyn will make his preseason debut after getting fully medically cleared from appendectomy surgery a couple of weeks ago.

The 2015 first round pick has had a bit of a rough summer after bouts with mononucleosis and appendicitis forced him to miss Bruins rookie camp, but Senyshyn has quickly regained his strength and the blazing speed that's his biggest asset as a player. 

Austin Czarnik, Peter Mueller and Sean Kuraly are the only players from the opening night roster that will be in again to show their stuff against the Winged Wheels, and undoubtedly to get another long look from the Bruins coaching staff. Here is the full Black and Gold lineup for Wednesday night’s home date against the Red Wings with the untelevised exhibition game to be streamed on bruins.com

 

FORWARDS: Noel Acciari, Matt Beleskey, Anton Blidh, Austin Czarnik, Brian Ferlin, Jesse Gabrielle, Justin Hickman, Sean Kuraly, Dominic Moore, Peter Mueller, Zach Senyshyn, Ryan Spooner.

DEFENSEMEN: Linus Arnesson, Chris Casto, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller.

GOALIES: Malcolm Subban, Daniel Vladar.