MIDDLETON, Mass. — Shawn Thornton's golf game hasn't been up to his usual standards this summer, but the Bruins forward isn't complaining.
After all, the reason he's struggling is because he got off to a late start on the links this year. He was a little preoccupied for most of the month of June winning his second Stanley Cup.
"Not as much as last year," Thornton said when asked how often he's golfed this summer. "We didn't golf all through playoffs, so I've only been out maybe 15 or 16 times. That probably sounds like a lot to most people, but I think last year I had 50 rounds in. That's a good thing, though. That means we played until the end of June."
Thornton didn't mind trading a few extra rounds of golf for more rounds in the playoffs, but he wasn't going to miss Monday's outing at Ferncroft Country Club in Middleton. That's where his second annual "Putts and Punches for Parkinson's" golf tournament was being held, and Thornton sold out the spots available in the tournament to raise money for the Boston Bruins Foundation and the American Parkinson Disease Association.
The inaugural tournament last summer was a success despite some last-minute scrambling to put it together after Thornton re-signed with the Bruins to remain in Boston for two more years. This year, Thornton was determined to make the tournament even bigger and better, and with a little help from the extra cachet that comes with winning the Cup, he was able to accomplish that goal.
"Last year I went to the Bruins Foundation and said I'd like to do something for the Parkinson's," Thornton said. "My grandmother was afflicted by it for the last 12-13 years of her life. She passed a couple years ago. We had to wait until I re-signed to really get this thing to take off. Last year was tough, we put it all together in about a month and a half. This year it was very, very seamless. We sold out very quick. We had to tell people no unfortunately just so that we could keep the numbers where it would be enjoyable for everyone. Hopefully we can make even more than we did last year."
Last year Thornton had some help from fellow Bruins Milan Lucic and Tuukka Rask, but he had to do it alone this time as his teammates haven't begun trickling back into town yet after the late start to their offseason. Scheduling conflicts also prevented some of Thornton's other celebrity pals from participating, but no one on hand seemed disappointed with Thornton handling the host duties solo.
"This is it, just me," Thornton said. "Nobody's in town. The Sox are out of town. Kenny Florian is just getting back from Philly. Micky [Ward] was busy. All my buddies, nobody likes me."
Maybe they just didn't want to lose to Thornton again. Last year Thornton showed good form on the course but perhaps bad form as a host by winning his own tournament. He had some help from the club's assistant pro then, but wasn't as confident in his foursome this time around.
"I'm defending champ," Thornton said. "If I didn't have [Bruins director of communications Matt] Chmura in my group I might have a chance, but I don't know. The way he played the last time I played with him, I don't like our chances."
The start of the tournament was delayed by rain, but the weather didn't dampen any spirits.
"I hope it will pass quickly here," Thornton said of the storms. "It's 90-percent Charlestown [people] here. I don't think they really care about the rain. I think they'll get through anything."
Thornton was appreciative of all the participants who came out to support his efforts to raise money for Parkinson's research.
"We had a waiting list this year," Thornton said. "I think a lot of that has to do with everybody that was here last year renewed for this year right away, so there wasn't a lot of room to begin with. I think we have 24 foursomes this year. We capped it at that because we wanted to make sure everybody had a good time. We want it to move quickly. Nobody likes a seven-hour best-ball round."
But Thornton, like most hockey players, was willing to take as long as needed to make the event a success.
"I think we're fairly grounded individuals to begin with," Thornton said of why hockey players have traditionally been so active within their communities. "Any time we can give a little bit back we're definitely happy to do that."