Shawn Thornton calls Florida his ‘first choice’

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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 NHL.com 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.