Randy Carlyle hasn’t considered Shawn Thornton one of his charges since 2006-07, when they won a ring in Anaheim.
Their five-year separation, however, has done little to dampen Carlyle’s admiration for his former fourth-liner, who signed a two-year, $2.2 million extension Saturday.
“He hasn’t changed his style or approach,’’ said Carlyle, now Toronto’s coach. “I think he’s getting more recognition because he went out and earned it. He’s a catalyst. He was a catalyst for our hockey club when we had him in Anaheim. That’s what he’s doing for the Bruins. It’s great to see a player who’s put in the number of years of hard work - I’m talking years, not months, of hard work - and be rewarded with a contract of that stature. He’s earned everything he’s got. He earns it the tough way. You recognize he’s not the most skilled guy. But he comes out day in and day out, forces you to play, and forces those confrontations all around the rink.’’
The Bruins made the signing official Monday.
“I’m not going to lie. It’s a little bit of weight off my shoulders,’’ Thornton said. “It wasn’t a distraction. But it’s definitely a little easier when you know you’re going to be somewhere for the next couple years.’’
Thornton will be 36 in 2014, the final year of his extension. But given his physical shape and his commitment to offseason fitness (boxing at The Ring in Allston is one of his go-to workouts), Thornton’s legs should be sound throughout the duration of the contract.
“I’m happy to get him signed,’’ said general manager Peter Chiarelli. “He just takes so much pride in his conditioning. That’s gotten better over the time I’ve seen him. I think without question he’ll be able to play well for two more years.’’
Thornton’s job description requires absorbing fists from some of the league’s toughest customers. Thornton isn’t in the weight class of battleships such as John Scott. But the 6-foot-2-inch, 217-pound Thornton is one of the most technically proficient fighters in the game. Thornton knows how to protect himself and hand out punishment - just ask ex-teammate Mark Stuart, who Thornton tuned up earlier this season - while playing a smart fourth-liner’s game.
“He’s stuck with the game for a long time,’’ Chiarelli said when asked if he was surprised at how Thornton developed. “In my time, I’ve seen a lot of guys drop out at certain points in their career. Shawn has gone and surpassed that. He’s gotten better. Each year he’s gotten better. He keeps in terrific shape.’’
Peverley joins skate
Rich Peverley participated in the morning skate prior to the game. It was the first time Peverley skated alongside his teammates since suffering a third-degree MCL sprain in his right knee Feb. 15. Peverley didn’t take any contact during the session.
“Still on schedule,’’ Peverley said. “Just taking it day by day. I’m getting better. Good to be out with the team.’’
Peverley might practice for the first time Tuesday. He will join the team on its three-game California trip. According to Julien, Peverley is considered day to day.
It’s possible Peverley could play during the trip. He would likely return to the third line. If everybody is healthy, Peverley would replace either Benoit Pouliot or Brian Rolston.
“When you’re gone for that long, you don’t just come back overnight,’’ Julien said. “We’re going to give him a chance and wait for our doctors to clear him.’’
Deals on hold
Chiarelli said he will not re-sign any impending unrestricted free agents until the season’s conclusion. Players scheduled to reach UFA status are Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Greg Zanon, Joe Corvo, Rolston, and Mike Mottau.
Of the group, Kelly, Campbell, and Paille are the most likely to return. Chiarelli has spoken to all to explain his philosophy of wanting them trained on the playoffs instead of their next contracts.
“We’re coming down to the stretch where we need to be focused on the task at hand,’’ Kelly said. “That’s playing every game to the best of our ability, going out there, and winning those games. All that other outside distractions? That’s what it is - outside distractions. Obviously I’m happy for everyone who got signed, Thorny and the guys who got extended earlier in the year. But right now, the rest of us are focused on coming to the rink, doing our job, and helping this team do well.’’
Corvo sits again
Corvo was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Julien said Corvo is slightly banged up. “If we really needed him, he’d be available,’’ Julien said. “But right now, we’re going to stick with the same lineup of healthy guys.’’ . . . Mottau was also a healthy scratch . . . Joffrey Lupul missed his seventh straight game because of a shoulder injury. He was hurt March 6 when David Krejci checked him into the Air Canada Center boards . . . Campbell fought Luke Schenn in the first period. It was the second straight game with a fight for Campbell. The fourth-line center took on Zac Rinaldo in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers . . . Patrice Bergeron played only 13:23, the least action he’s seen this season when he’s been healthy. Bergeron played only 7:19 March 11 against Pittsburgh after taking a Matt Niskanen shot off the left leg.Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.