Florida Panthers

Panthers’ Shawn Thornton ready for return to Boston

Back home: Shawn Thornton, left, joked about going to Boston: ‘I hope they don’t boo me out of there. I did some good work with the community.’
Back home: Shawn Thornton, left, joked about going to Boston: ‘I hope they don’t boo me out of there. I did some good work with the community.’ Getty Images

Before the puck drops Tuesday, Shawn Thornton has some business to take care of in Boston.

The Panther’s matchup against the Bruins will be the first time Thornton has played at Boston’s TD Garden as a visitor.

After seven years and a championship season with the Bruins, the winger plans to spend his homecoming attending to charity work before suiting up and facing his old teammates.

The Shawn Thornton Foundation, which is dedicated to funding research and improving quality of life for those with Parkinson’s disease and pediatric cancer, is headquartered in Boston. Thornton also hosts an annual golf tournament in the city in conjunction with the Boston Bruins Foundation.

Thornton has a couple of check presentations to do before the game, so he anticipates a full Tuesday.

The recent Florida transplant still considers Boston home; he spends his offseason in the city, and keeps a house there that Bruins right wing Kevan Miller is renting.

Thornton hopes to be welcomed back as a member of the community.

“I hope they don’t boo me out of there,” he joked. “I did some good work with the community, so I think people kind of appreciated that. I mean, I wasn’t really a good hockey player there, but I tried to give back a lot.”

“I’m excited to go back in there. I want the win, is what I want.”

A Panthers win in the Garden would be exceptional. Florida hasn’t won in Boston since December 2011, and the Bruins have defeated the Panthers in 14 of the teams’ past 16 matchups.

Florida heads to Boston after having won two in a row at home.

Thornton was undoubtedly a fan favorite in Boston. He scored 34 times in his seven seasons, but was best known as the Bruins’ enforcer: He led the team in fighting majors in all but his first season in the city.

Although he hasn’t been much for fighting since arriving in South Florida, Thornton’s homecoming did give coach Gerard Gallant a chance to address the league trend away from signing players who are known for stepping up in fight.

“There’s still a role there,” Gallant said. “There’s not as many fights as there used to be in the past, but it’s still that the physical players you can play are important to the hockey club.

“I know when you don’t have them, you notice it, and when you have them, you feel a lot better.”

Thornton, for one, doesn’t plan on dropping his gloves Tuesday, but joked that he isn’t above scrapping with former teammates.

“I’d beat up my own sister if it got us two points.”

▪ Of the Panthers’ five players who sat out Saturday’s win over Philadelphia at the BB&T Center, only Jonathan Huberdeau (flu) and Aleksander Barkov (lower body) traveled with the team to Boston on Monday afternoon.

Huberdeau did not practice Monday and Barkov practiced wearing a non-contact jersey. Gallant said Barkov is still day-to-day.

Brandon Pirri (head), Sean Bergenheim (lower body) and Dave Bolland (groin) did not practice with the team Monday and will not make the trip to Boston. Tuesday’s matchup is the sixth consecutive missed game for Bolland.

Pirri sustained a concussion after taking an elbow to the head in Florida’s win against Arizona on Thursday.

Tuesday: Panthers at Bruins

When/where: 7 p.m.; TD Garden, Boston.

TV/radio: FSNF; WQAM 560.

The series: Boston leads 41-32-6.

Noteworthy: The Bruins have absolutely owned the Panthers over the past few seasons. Consider: Last year, Boston went 5-0 against Florida and outscored the Panthers 22-8. The Bruins have won eight in a row against Florida, 14 of 16 and 20 of 26.

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