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Thornton back, with just his smile infectious

WILMINGTON -- After a couple of days at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was treated with intravenous antibiotics for an infected cut just above his left eyebrow, Bruins captain Joe Thornton was back on the ice yesterday for a morning workout.

"I'm cured," declared Thornton with the zeal of an evangelist. "I'm healed!"

Despite the ever-present smile on his face and enthusiasm in his voice, it was clear the ordeal was no laughing matter for Thornton. The small cut, caused by the rub of his helmet, became infected Friday, and doctors prescribed an oral antibiotic.

"But that didn't do it," said Thornton. "I don't know, but I guess ordinary antibiotics don't do it for me. I've had these kinds of infections before -- an ankle once, and my elbow last year [compounded by a troublesome staph infection], and regular pills just don't do it for me."

According to Thornton, he awoke Saturday to find the infection had spread, the swelling forcing his left eye to shut. By the time he consulted with doctors again, the soreness and swelling were spreading across the bridge of his nose and headed for the other eye.

"That's when it was time for the heavy-duty stuff -- stronger antibiotics, IV, the hospital, the whole bit," said Thornton.

According to the star center, team doctors have instructed the training staff to stock the more potent antibiotics, just in case Thornton should develop a similar infection on the road.

"I don't want to go through it again," said Thornton. "But this way, at least we'll be prepared for it."

KEVIN PAUL DUPONT

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