Panthers’ Thornton joins exclusive group

Florida Panthers forward Shawn Thornton made history on Saturday night, becoming just the third player in history to skate in at least 600 regular-season games in both the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.

The 37-year-old Thornton appeared in his 600th NHL game on Saturday as his Panthers took on the Boston Bruins. He joins Dave Creighton and AHL Hall of Famer Jim Morrison as the only members of the 600-600 club.

A 1997 draft pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Thornton made his professional debut with the AHL’s St. John’s Maple Leafs on Oct. 5, 1997. He played four seasons in St. John’s before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the 2001-02 campaign.

After five full seasons in the AHL, Thornton made his NHL debut with Chicago on Oct. 10, 2002. He went on to split four years between Chicago and the Norfolk Admirals before signing as a free agent with Anaheim in 2006.

Thornton began the 2006-07 season with the Portland Pirates but was recalled in December and has been in the NHL ever since. He helped the Ducks win a Stanley Cup championship in 2007, and won another title with Boston in 2011.

For his AHL career, Thornton appeared in 605 games, recorded 61 goals and 100 assists, and ranks fifth all-time with 2,468 career penalty minutes.

Creighton, who played 615 games in the NHL with Boston, Toronto, Chicago and the N.Y. Rangers, was a seven-time 20-goal scorer in the AHL while skating in 800 games for Hershey, Rochcester, Buffalo, Baltimore and Providence. The AHL’s MVP in 1967-68, Creighton is tied for 24th all-time with 692 career AHL points.

Morrison played 704 NHL games for Boston, Toronto, Detroit, the N.Y. Rangers and Pittsburgh, and starred over 721 AHL games with Hershey, Pittsburgh, Quebec and Baltimore. Morrison earned eight postseason AHL All-Star Team selections in his 12 seasons in the league, won the Eddie Shore Award as the league’s outstanding defenseman in 1965-66, and was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2013.