Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton calls Florida his ‘first choice’


For the first time since the 2007-08 season, Shawn Thornton will play for a team other than the Boston Bruins. It might be hard to believe considering his new team’s lack of playoff success, but Thornton told that signing with the Florida Panthers is actually a meaningful move for the enforcer.

“Florida was my first choice. I like where the team is going,” Thornton said. “I obviously know [Panthers GM Dale Tallon] from Chicago. I love the area. I’ve already been down a couple of times checking it out with the wife. We’re really, really excited to be a part of it.”

It almost sounds like a reunion for both player and GM, in some ways. One could argue that both Tallon and Thornton are seeing their careers wind down at the same time, although the pugnacious player provides the most obvious example with what might be his final NHL contract.

“A long time ago we started off together,” Tallon said. “I signed him to his first contract. He can play it any way you want. He’ll surprise you with his skills and he’ll score some highlight-film goals, but he knows his role. His fitness level is incredible, his nutrition. He’ll really be a great leader in our locker room for our young guys. He’ll show them the way. He and Derek (MacKenzie) will really make a good tandem. It’ll be hard to play against. It’s a fourth line that will play with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and toughness.”

The 37-year-old seems pretty confident about his versatility, while others wonder if he’s part of a dying breed. We’ll find out soon enough, but if nothing else, it sounds like Thornton is happy to join the Panthers.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.