During the 2011 off-season, stay tuned to norfolkadmirals.com and facebook.com/norfolkadmirals for regular installments of "By the Numbers." In these articles and photo galleries, the Admirals will take a look at jersey numbers in AHL Admirals history, listing each player to have worn a specific number while highlighting one particular player.
Over the last 11 seasons, only one Admiral has ever had the number signifying "double-nickels" on the back of his jersey and now he is the only Admiral to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup twice.
Shawn Thornton, the all-time leader in penalty minutes in Admirals history, spent parts of five seasons donning number 55 for the Admirals. From 2001 to 2006, Thornton defined the role as "fan-favorite" and enforcer in Norfolk. In 2007, he was a member of the Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks and earlier this month, this time wearing number 22, Thornton was a member of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
Thornton originally joined the Admirals prior to the 2001-02 season, after spending four seasons with the AHL’s St. John's Maple Leafs. In his first two seasons with the Admirals, Thornton compiled 494 regular season penalty minutes (PIMs) and 32 PIMs in 13 playoff games.
Throughout his career with the Admirals, Thornton was best known for dropping his gloves against opposing enforcers and having his teammates' backs when called upon. He amassed 1,198 penalty minutes during his time with the Admirals. Thornton, who scored 40 goals and 98 points in 314 games with the Admirals, ranks first in penalty minutes, fourth in games played, is tied for 12th in points and is 16th in goals in AHL Admirals history.
During the 2002-03 season, Thornton was recalled to the NHL for the first time in his professional career. In 13 games as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks that season, Thornton compiled one goal with one assist and 31 PIMs. He would go on to appear in 31 career games with the Blackhawks from 2002-03 to 2005-06, registering two goals, three points and 70 penalty minutes.
On July 12, 2006, Thornton traded the black and red jerseys of the Blackhawks for the black and gold of the Anaheim Ducks. During the 2006-07 season, Thornton played 15 games for the Portland Pirates, Anaheim's AHL affiliate, registering eight points and 55 PIMs. It is the last time he has been in the American Hockey League. As of the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Thornton ranked fourth in AHL history with 2,478 penalty minutes in 605 games between St. John’s, Norfolk and Portland.
Thornton spent the remainder of 2006-07 in the NHL with the Ducks, winning his first Stanley Cup when the Ducks defeated the Ottawa Senators in five games. After establishing NHL career highs with 48 games played, two goals and nine points in the regular season, Thornton appeared in 15 of Anaheim’s 21 games during its playoff run, recording 19 penalty minutes.
It was after celebrating this championship that Thornton agreed to the deal that brought him to Boston. In 290 regular season games with the Bruins over the past four seasons, Thornton has compiled 21 goals and 48 points to go along with 460 PIMs. After missing the post-season the two seasons prior to his arrival, the Bruins have reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of the four years that Thornton has been part of the team.
During the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Thornton registered one assist and 24 penalty minutes in 17 playoff games. Thornton did not dress during Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, but dressed in Games 3-7 against Vancouver and was heralded by reporters as a steadying veteran presence as the Bruins overcame a 2-0 deficit to the Canucks.
Thornton remains under contract with the Bruins through the 2011-12 season. Players wearing #55 in AHL Admirals history: Shawn Thornton (2001-02 – 2005-06)