Panthers’ Shawn Thornton says he’s good to go, returns to practice

Right wing Shawn Thornton has missed 17 games, but is practicing again and is close to playing in a game for the Panthers.

Winslow Townson/Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida Panthers enforcer Shawn Thornton, who has missed the past 17 games with a groin injury, returned to practice on Friday after having participated in several pregame skates during the team’s recent six-game road trip.

”It’s good for Thorty,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. ”He’s been out a long time. He’s getting back into the groove of things here and hopefully keeps working hard and getting in shape.”

Thornton, 37, was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 6 and is eligible to return to the lineup when ready. He was skating with recent healthy scratches Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri during practice on Friday.

”It felt good,” said Thornton. ”It’s been too long. I’m not a very patient man when it comes to this stuff. Mentally, I’ve been a little bit agitated. I’m getting close, that’s a good sign.”

According to Thornton, the lower-body injury was sustained during a fight with New Jersey captain Bryce Salvador during a 5-1 loss to Devils in the home opener on Oct. 11.

In the 20 games following the initial injury, Thornton said he played through the pain and discomfort before finally shutting down to recover properly.

”Nobody ever plays at 100 percent,” said Thornton. ”Everybody’s got some aches and pains so I’m not too worried about being 100 percent to go. I’d probably only have two games pro if I only played in the ones where I felt 100 percent.

”It’s lingered for the whole year, but I’ve taken five weeks off basically. I’m fairly confident that it’s healed and should be good to go for the rest of the year.”

Thornton, who signed a two-year deal with Florida in the offseason, has recorded one goal, one assist and 27 penalty minutes in 22 games for the Panthers this season.

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