It took a trip to Northern Ireland for Shawn Thornton to become the Boston Bruin that everyone wanted to talk to.
And the man with the Belfast-born mother loved every minute of it — including his Guinness.
Thornton is usually the type of player that goes about his business quietly and then retreats back into the shadows of the higher paid and higher profile stars of the team.
Fly 3,000 miles, though, and all of a sudden he was in the spotlight like never before, with cameras pointed at him, microphones thrust towards his chest and questions about Belfast directed at him at every opportunity.
“It’s been different for me. We have a lot of stars in this team, a lot of good players, but it was fun for a change to come home and see family members that I haven’t seen in years and see my mom smiling,” said Thornton.
The Bruins were made to work for their 5-1 win over the Belfast Giants Select on Saturday, even going a goal down. Then three goals in 46 seconds change the course of the game and the NHL stars entertained.
For Thornton the trip gave him the chance to sample Belfast after years of hearing stories from his late grandmother about where she grew up.
“We haven’t had a lot of time to ourselves,” said Thornton.
“I had a walk around the city for around an hour on Thursday in between getting here and first practice and then went out and had a pint after dinner.
“I got to go and see my family on Friday afternoon and we’d some fish and chips and a pint of Guinness, so that was good to see where they live. It was fun.
“I had a few pints. I’m in Belfast, so why not?”
It’s more likely that golf rather than ice hockey will bring Thornton back to Belfast.
“I’ll definitely be back. I want to play golf and we’ve talked about it for years,” he said.
“My wife is keen and it’s only a short flight from Boston, so I’ll be coming back for sure.
“I wouldn’t rule out playing here, but it’ll be a number of years, I’ll be playing in the NHL for as long as I can. I’m not going to lie to anyone, the money’s too good to leave.”