Florida winger Shawn Thornton is expected to retire following the 2016-17 season, reports DJ Bean of WEEI. Interestingly enough, last year was supposed to be his final season but when the Panthers opted to offer him an extension just before the trade deadline, he jumped at the opportunity to stick around for one more year, telling Bean that, “When they offered another year, I sprained my finger signing the thing before they changed their minds”.
Thornton has played a part-time role with Florida in the past two years after joining the team in the 2014 offseason. In 2015-16, he suited up in 50 games for the Panthers, picking up a goal and four assists to go along with 80 penalty minutes. He also got into four postseason contests, being held pointless.
The 39 year old was drafted by Toronto in the seventh round of the 1997 draft but never suited up for the Leafs. He still has been well-travelled over the years, getting in 655 games with Chicago, Anaheim, Boston, and Florida, picking up 40 goals, 58 assists, and 1,036 penalty minutes.
A year ago, Thornton was planning on getting involved in sports media in his retirement but has had a change of heart and now plans to get into the business side of the game:
“As we know, things change year-to-year – this would have been a different conversation last year – but as of right now I think I’m probably leaning more towards the business side of hockey. Once the season’s over, I’ll probably move into that role in Florida. Media, I did a lot and that’s exactly where I thought I was going to end up going, but if the opportunity is still there to get into learning something new in the business side of sports, I just see a ton of upside to that for longer in life.”
Thornton will likely once again be a part time player with Florida next season, as evidenced by the pay cut he took in his deal last February. After earning $1.2MM in each of the last two seasons, he is only guaranteed half of that in 2016-17 with an additional $172K in games played and Stanley Cup bonuses. When in the lineup, he’ll likely be deployed on Florida’s fourth line.