The Florida Panthers announced they’ve signed enforcer Shawn Thornton to a one-year extension.
— Florida Panthers PR (@FlaPanthersPR) February 25, 2016
The Panthers sit first place in the Atlantic and Thornton has become a vocal leader in the dressing room. Panthers owner Vinnie Viola said Thornton embodies exactly what they’re looking for in players’ characters.
“We are pleased to have Shawn return for another season,” Panthers Owner, Chairman & Governor Vinnie Viola said. “Shawn is the embodiment of the selfless, team-first culture we are trying to create on and off the ice with the Florida Panthers and has made himself an important part of the South Florida community. We look forward to having this man of character as a leader within our organization for many years to come.”
The fact the 38-year-old has kept up this type of career longevity is impressive. He’s appeared in 35 games for the Panthers this season, scoring just once with three points, while racking up 50 penalty minutes. Thornton is one of the last true enforcers – a good locker room guy, who’s only truly valuable hockey skill is protecting his teammates and dropping the gloves. NHL teams are moving away from that, but Thornton’s veteran leadership is clearly important in Florida.
“Shawn is a true professional,” Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “He is an important voice on our team and is a welcoming presence in the dressing room. He’s a veteran player that knows what it takes to win. I’m very pleased to have him back for another year.”
The two-time Stanley Cup winner has played on winning teams. The Panthers are a growing team and are starting to play really well. Keeping Thornton around might be the good luck charm they need. I’m going to assume this is a veteran’s minimum contract, and since it’s only for one year, it’s not like Florida is making a franchise-altering move. They’re keeping a good locker room guy, and even if his role is starting to disappear, he can still contribute for the Panthers in non-scoring ways.