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Thornton’s contract extended

He’ll punch in for two more years

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / June 5, 2010

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Of the 119 pucks Shawn Thornton put on opposing netminders in 2009-10, only one found the back of the net — a number that disappointed both player and organization.

“It would have been nice to get more offense,’’ general manager Peter Chiarelli said of Thornton, and the fourth line. “I talked to Thorny about that at year’s end. He might have had more shots than he always had. But sometimes for that line, it just doesn’t happen offensively.’’

Offense, however, is just one component of Thornton’s game. He is responsible defensively. This season, Thornton engaged in a career-high 21 fights, including the March 18 beatdown of Matt Cooke in the first Boston-Pittsburgh clash following the agitator’s blind-side wallop of Marc Savard. He’s a go-to leader who won a Stanley Cup ring with Anaheim in 2006-07.

So for all those reasons, the Bruins yesterday re-signed the 32-year-old fourth-liner to a two-year, $1.625 million contract extension ($812,500 annual cap hit). Thornton would have become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

“Shawn’s been a terrific soldier for us in the time that he’s been here,’’ said Chiarelli. “He’s always among the leaders in fisticuffs. I won’t say fighting, because it’s an art for Thorny. He knows his role. He has an offensive side that comes out, probably more two years ago than last year. I know he can provide some offense on the forecheck. Tremendous character, good in the room, wants to be in Boston. It was a good decision that we made and a relatively easy decision that we made. We’re happy to have him back.’’

Thornton, who shifted between left and right wing, appeared in 74 regular-season games this season, scoring one goal and nine assists while recording 141 penalty minutes. Thornton averaged 9 minutes 2 seconds of ice time per game. In the playoffs, Thornton did not register a point in 12 games, averaging 7:08 of action.

Thornton originally signed a three-year, $1.55 million contract July 1, 2007. In 211 games with the Bruins, the 6-foot-2-inch, 217-pounder has 11 goals and 17 assists with 338 PIMs. Thornton is considered one of the toughest pound-per-pound enforcers in the NHL.

“I wanted to be a Bruin for as long as possible,’’ said Thornton, who maintains his downtown Boston home during the offseason. “We love the city. We love being here. I’m still here. I’m really happy to be back. I’m glad we could make it happen.’’

Making a list
Earlier this week, the Bruins concluded meetings in Gatineau, Quebec, in advance of this month’s draft. The Bruins, who will draft No. 2 overall, also have the 15th, 32d, and 45th picks.

“At the tail end of the meetings, we brought some players in to test in Gatineau. We’ll continue to bring some players in to test and interview,’’ said Chiarelli. “I thought the meetings went well.

“The fact that we have four picks in the first round and a half, you always pay attention to these things. You focus in on your target guys, the guys that you want, and where they should be slotted.

“This is a deep draft. I’m more in touch with it this year because we have so many high picks.’’

Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall, the top-ranked players by the NHL’s Central Scouting, are scheduled for visits to Boston in the next few days. Chiarelli has planned a visit to Hall and his family at their Kingston, Ontario, home in the next few weeks. Last week, Chiarelli and assistant GMs Jim Benning and Don Sweeney met with Seguin and his family in their Brampton, Ontario, home.

Talking the talk
Discussions continue with some of the free agents-to-be, said Chiarelli. He didn’t identify which players are in negotiations. The most significant one is Dennis Seidenberg, who said last month that negotiations had started. One Eastern Conference executive said that unlike last summer, when the defenseman went unsigned until mid-September, Seidenberg would draw interest if he hits the market, with an annual salary north of $4 million possible. Seidenberg raised his profile around the league because of his seamless pairing with Zdeno Chara.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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