"Quiet Man" Thornton preps for season


Shawn Thornton has been keeping busy over the past few weeks.

After vacationing at Pebble Beach, Thornton returned and jumped right back in the ring -- and not the one in which he can be found skating toe-to-toe with NHL heavyweights as he did 21 times during the 2009-10 season. This is a different kind of ring.

Last summer, Thornton adding boxing to his offseason training regimen, taking up lessons at The Ring Boxing Club in Allston, Mass. Thornton started boxing again in recent weeks and is starting to feel ready to get back on the ice for the Boston Bruins.

"Yeah, I've been training at The Ring again and I'm feeling great," said Thornton, who signed a one-year extension with the Bruins earlier this summer. "I really love this training because it really helps with cardio, quickness and endurance. It's a good pre-cursor to training camp and getting back in the grind of the season."

Many fans may not realize that Thornton is actually named after John Wayne's character -- an Irish boxer -- in the classic movie "The Quiet Man." Thornton's late grandmother loved the movie and Wayne's "Sean Thornton" so much that she had her daughter name her son after the character.

"My grandma really loved that movie and she made my parents name me Shawn Thornton, so it's kind of cool that I became a fighter, I guess," Thornton said with a laugh.

On Aug. 9, Thornton held the first of what he hopes becomes an annual "Shawn Thornton's Putts and Punches For Parkinson's Golf Tournament." The cause is dear to him as his grandmother suffered from Parkinson's disease. The tournament was a big hit, as all 20 slots of four-member teams sold out, and Thornton's teammates Tuukka Rask and Milan Lucic participated.

"I was really honored so many fans and people made this a great event in it's first year, and obviously Parkinson's is something close to my heart after losing my grandma to the disease," Thornton said. "The Boston sports community is so amazing and that's why I wanted to stay here so bad. I love it here and want to thank everyone for their help."

Thornton has been following the Bruins' offseason moves and is excited about the way the roster is shaping up. The bitter taste of the blown 3-0 series lead to the Flyers in the playoffs last season remains in his mouth, but he's looking forward to moving on to a fresh start.

"You have to like the moves Peter [Chiarelli] has made, and the team is looking good," Thornton said. "I hated to see Dennis [Wideman] go but we got a good scorer back in Nathan Horton, and everyone is excited about Tyler Seguin."

With so much hype around the second-overall pick coming into the season, opponents could be looking to take liberties with Seguin and give him a "proper" welcome into the NHL. Thornton knows he will be counted on to make sure that doesn't happen.

"That's my job," Thornton said of protecting Seguin and his teammates. "I'll be ready for that for sure because I think even to any new player, that's expected to happen, and it's my role to step in and make sure [the opponents] face the consequences. Guys will be gunning for [Seguin}, and I'll be ready for them."

Until then, the "Quiet Man" will be preparing for the season at The Ring and running around the streets of Boston.

"I'll be boxing and running from now until camp and then it's on," Thornton said. "This should be a fun season."