Chicago is where it all started for Shawn Thornton.

One decade and two Stanley Cups later, the 35-year-old returns to the place where he broke into the league, seeking the third championship of his career. He said there won’t be too much reminiscing this week, as all his focus is on another title and tomorrow night’s Game 1 against the Blackhawks.

“It’s a whole new management, a whole new coaching staff, a different owner. The only thing that’s the same is the building,” Thornton said of Chicago. “I haven’t put too much thought into it, that’s for sure. I’ve just been focused on what’s been going on in here.”

When asked what he remembers about his Chicago days, Thornton said “a lot of hotel rooms.” He wasn’t just being funny. The Ontario native was on the shuttle from AHL affiliate Norfolk to Chicago constantly in the first three years of his NHL career.

After five years of playing in the AHL, the bruising forward got his first break thanks to former Blackhawks coach Brian Sutter in 2002. Thornton, then 25, didn’t expect to make the team, but he got his foot in the door because of his conditioning and an injury to Eric Daze. For 13 games that season, Thornton got to live his dream, playing on Chicago’s second line with Michael Nylander and Steve Sullivan.

At the end of November, he was sent back to Norfolk. Thornton played 31 games for the Blackhawks through the 2005-06 season. He estimates he was a healthy scratch nearly 100 times in that span, but after spending the majority of his career in the AHL, he certainly didn’t mind.

“I was the extra guy a lot, and I was fine (with it),” Thornton said. “Being the extra guy in the NHL is a lot better than being the second-line guy on the AHL, especially after playing down there for that many years. I was OK with it.”