The Fighter: Inside Thornton's ring


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.

Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch


Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch

BOSTON -- It wasn’t perfect by any means, but Saturday night represented a step in a positive direction for Ryan Spooner.

The 24-year-old speedy forward was scratched for the home opener against New Jersey in classic message-sending fashion by Bruins coach Claude Julien, and deserved it based on a passive lack of production combined with some costly mistakes as well. So he stayed quiet, put in the work and then returned to the lineup Saturday vs. the Montreal Canadiens where he scored a power play goal in the 4-2 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.

“He was better,” agreed Claude Julien. “He was better tonight.”

Spooner could have had even more as he got a couple of great scoring chances in the first period vs. Montreal, but Carey Price was able to turn away a couple of free looks at the Montreal net. So the Bruins forward felt he possibly left points on the ice after it was all said and done, but also clearly played his best game of the young season after going from the press box back to the lineup.

“Yeah, I had like maybe four or five [chances] that I could have scored on,” said Spooner. “I’ve just got to bear down on those [scoring opportunities], and a lot [of them] in the first period. It’s good that I’m getting those looks, but I have to score on them.

“I’m just going to go out there and just try to play. I can’t really think about [fighting to hold a spot]. I’ve just got to go out there and try to play, I guess, the game I can and try to use the speed that I have.”

The Spooner power play strike was a nifty one with the shifty forward and David Backes connecting on a pass across the front of the net, and the young B’s forward showing the necessary assertiveness cutting to the net from his half-wall position.

Spooner had five shot attempts overall in the game, and was one of the few Bruins players really getting the chances they wanted against a pretty effective Montreal defensive group. Now it’s a matter of Spooner, along with linemates Backes and David Krejci, scoring during 5-on-5 play and giving the Bruins a little more offensive balance after riding Boston’s top line very hard during the regular season’s first couple of weeks. 

Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils


Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting to find out which Walking Dead character got brained by Lucille in last season’s cliffhanger. I’m going with Abraham.

*The SI roundtable talks about the future of Jacob Trouba, and where he’ll end up going when his current situation resolves itself.

*P.K. Subban is apparently getting very comfortable in Nashville, and enjoying life in a city with NFL football.

*Fun conversation between Yahoo’s Josh Cooper and Brad Marchand about a whole range of random topics.

*A cool father-son story where they became the goaltending tandem for the Ontario Reign through a series of dominoes falling after Jonathan Quick went down with injury for the Los Angeles Kings.

*Pro Hockey Talk has Taylor Hall serving as exactly what the New Jersey Devils have needed for the last couple of years.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy says that the MLB playoffs couldn’t have played out any worse for the Boston Red Sox.