Thornton (center) and his golfing partners

MIDDLETON, Mass. – Not too long after he passed on unrestricted free agency and re-signed with the Bruins, Shawn Thornton announced plans to hold the charity golf tournament he’d been dreaming of for a while.

However, after the announcement turned dreams into reality, he suffered some slight nightmares.

“In late June, I was sitting there; we hadn’t really gotten going yet. I lost a couple hours sleep thinking about it, that’s for sure,” said Thornton today when asked about hoping there’d be enough participants to make the first Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament a hit. “The support’s been great. Everybody I strong-armed in Charlestown came through.”

About 30 minutes before the 20 foursomes that paid $1,600 per group to participate teed off at Ferncroft Country Club, it was obvious Thornton’s brainchild, which came together with tons of help from Bob Sweeney and Erin McEvoy of the Bruins Foundation, would be a huge boon for the Foundation and the American Parkinson Disease Association.

Thornton’s Bruins teammates Tuukka Rask and Milan Lucic joined the fray on the links, and the post-tournament silent auction was filled with great items. Among those up for bid were four tickets to the Dropkick Murphys’ St. Patrick’s Day concert (donated by the band), a trip via private plane with Thornton to have lunch on Martha’s Vineyard (donated by Eric Murray) and a Bruce Springsteen guitar, in addition to some big-time items from the Red Sox.

Needless to say, Thornton’s grandmother Maureen Mills, who passed away a couple years ago after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s would be proud. And she’s be proud of all Thornton has accomplished – establishing himself as an NHL regular on a contending team and constantly showing up in the community to support the causes he believes in.

Thornton’s efforts have helped Sweeney and the Foundation immensely.

“Shawn, along with [Tim Thomas], is probably one of only a couple guys that live here year round. It helps us that these guys are here year round and I think Shawn has really grown into his community, I think around the Charlestown area,” said Sweeney. “And people, it’s really hard not to like Shawn Thornton. He’s a great guy on and off the ice.”

A native of Oshawa, Ontario, Thornton played in three other organizations, and a handful of different NHL and AHL cities, before settling in Boston. The way he has embraced the town, you’d think he was a native.

“The Bruins, they’ve been unbelievable to me, first off giving me a three-year deal after my run in Anaheim. To maybe settle down and have a home, and once we got here my family’s kind of adopted this city,” said Thornton, whose other big cause is the ASPCA. “I love it here. So there was no thought in my mind that we wouldn’t stay. I said it all year, and I guess they felt the same way because they were nice enough to reward me with a two-year deal.

“As far as giving back, doing charity stuff is really easy around town. There’s a lot of great people around the city that try to help you out with that stuff too. So it’s nothing to give your time a little bit.”

That population of great people increased by one the first day Thornton signed with Boston, and the city should be grateful he has been able to stay and continue to contribute.

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