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Getting To Know Shawn Thornton

Posted by AJ Lee on

NHL players can be very particular about their equipment. Players will rotate through a pair of gloves each period. Some prepare multiple sticks as a part of their pregame rituals. Many will opt for new equipment after just one month of use.

Florida Panthers forward Shawn Thornton is not your typical NHL player.

I sat down with Thornton, a PSH brand ambassador, for an exclusive interview to gain some insight on his equipment preferences (or lack thereof).

Want to give a little introduction to some of the younger fans who might not know much about you?

Yeah, sure. I’m Shawn Thornton, I play left and right wing for the Florida Panthers, and I like to get punched in the head for a living.

That was perfect. So, what stick are you currently using?

Right now I’m using the Surgeon RX from STX.

What’s the flex on that?

Uh, right now 85. I went back and forth between 85 and 95 last year…the ol’ wrist gets sore sometimes, so a little less flex goes better in practice.

What about the height? That looks pretty tall.

Oh, good question…I don’t know actually. (Stands up and checks height) At my eyes, I guess. I’ve lengthened it over the years; it used to be a lot shorter. I think a lot of people add just a little bit on each year and that’s where we’re at now. Probably used to be at the bottom of my lip, now it’s above my nose … as I get slower, I need a longer stick.” (Laughs)

Do you use grip or any special ribbing?

Uh, grip? No idea. Stock I’m assuming. I never really asked, to be completely honest — they send it and I use it. (Laughs) There’s some ribbing in it … but it feels good in my gloves so that’s all that matters. Not too sticky; I can still move my hand, but I’m not flailing all over the place either. They actually make a pretty good stick.

Tell me about your curve. Has that seen any changes throughout your career?

That’s been switched a lot over the years. This was, you guys probably won’t remember his name, a kid named Byron Bitz — he played for the Boston Bruins — he had a curve similar to this … I used it one year and that was the year I had 10 goals. It’s progressively gotten a little bit bigger … but I’ve had the same curve since that year. Even though I haven’t had more than one in the last year three years, I’ve had that same curve since the year I scored 10 … hoping it all comes back to me. (Laughs)

How do you tape your stick? Toe to heel, heel to toe?

Heel to toe. I leave a little bit on the heel left off … I don’t know why. Same thing, that year I messed around with my tape a lot and this is what worked. Still rockin’ it … doesn’t work as much anymore, but, uh … it looks like I’m a skilled guy in practice and that’s all that matters. It’s all about how you look, not how you actually perform.

Tell me a little about the gloves you’re using.

They’re STX; yeah, everything is STX.

It looks like you’ve got a little bit of a cuff on there.

I do. It’s pretty thin for my backhand toe drags…need to be able to bend my hand backward.

Some people like a tight glove, others like them a bit more loose. Where do you fall?

I cut the insides out. I’ve got fairly big mitts, so I try and keep them as loose as possible in case they have to come off. And, over the years, it’s just what feels comfortable.

All right, I have to ask about your skates — are these the original Reebok Ribcor?

You know, I don’t even know what model these are.

I’m pretty sure these are the original Ribcor.

(Laughs) I have a tough time breaking in skates. These are pretty soft; I like them that way — just a personal preference. A lot of guys like a stiff boot — I don’t. I only go through two or three pairs a year.

Most people wear skates 1.5 to 2 sizes smaller than their shoe size — is that the same for you?

I’m a 12-12.5 shoe and I’m a 9.75 on skates … so yeah, down a few sizes. I’ve got a lift on the heel — I feel like I’m sitting back when I don’t have it. When I switched from Bauer to CCM I felt like I was sitting back too much. I think the boots are a little bit different; it kind of evened me out a little bit — maybe it’s all in my head; I’m not sure. (Laughs) But it seems to work; I don’t fall over my own two feet too often.

How do you like your skates sharpened?

I’m really flat; I’m like an inch, an inch and one-eighth sometimes. I don’t sharpen my skates very often; I like to be able to glide…not too many tight turns in the corner for me anyways. I’m usually running into the boards to get going the other way. I used to have bad groins, but when I switched from five-eighths to going over an inch gradually just getting flatter and flatter, it’s really helped; it’s been a lot easier on me.

So how often would you say you get your skates sharpened?

When I lose an edge.

So…once a week? Every couple of weeks?

Could be months.

Last question before I let you get out of here. Any special features you put into your skates?

(Smiling) Well, there’s a pump that’s never been used…not sure why that’s on there…

Stay tuned for more NHL equipment insight as we sit down with Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to break down his goalie gear!

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