Thornton: I'll play as long as I can

Thornton: I'll play as long as I can
August 14, 2013, 4:45 pm
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Shawn Thornton is entering the final year of his contract with the Boston Bruins, and is delving into the twilight years for an NHL enforcer at 35 years old.

But the B’s right winger showed he still has plenty in the tank while shining for Boston in oft-times limited duty during their run to the Stanley Cup three months ago. He is a crucial part of the best fourth line in hockey along with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille.

It remains to be seen if that trio will be kept together once training camp opens for the Black and Gold next month, but Thornton is raring to play again after a short summer break.

The Boston tough guy also said it’s going to be a frosty day in Hades – or something along those lines – before he starts thinking about retirement. Only Bruins teammates Zdeno Chara and Jarome Iginla will be older than Thornton entering next season, but the 6-foot-2, 217-pound winger isn’t dwelling on his age.

“I’m going to play until they rip the skates off of me, and tell me that I can’t anymore,” said Thornton on Monday during his Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tourney at the Ferncroft. “I’m aware of how old I am, but I definitely don’t feel it. I’ve been fairly consistent over the last few years, I think. People probably have varying opinions about that, but I’ll continue to do everything I can do to show up in good shape.

“I just want to show up and contribute in a positive way. I hate losing more than anyone. Last year stung and that will stick with me for sure. I want to have a big year personally, but I like the moves we’ve made, and we’re built to be a good team and go a long way. I’d like to be a part of that.”

Clearly a role like Thornton’s can be only be one punch away from his career being in jeopardy, and the brutal fight against Buffalo Sabres behemoth John Scott was a reminder of that last season.

But “The Quiet Man” has always won a lot more of those battles than he’s lost over the years, and that’s why he’s still casting that air of intimidation 16 years into his pro hockey career.

Good luck to the person that someday gets stuck with the unenviable job of trying to rip the skates off Thornton, because that won’t be any fun at all.