The NHL career of former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas has had more ups and downs than most players see in any sport. His life before the pros involved stints in the AHL as well as Finland. Once he was given a chance by Boston, he proceeded to win two Vezina Trophies, play for the US team in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and eventually win a Stanley Cup in 2011. During that Cup run, he also found himself winning the Conn Smythe Award as well.
And yet, just one season after that, Thomas was refusing to visit the White House on the team’s championship visit and making various political rants on his Facebook page. After the Bruins were knocked out of the first round of the 2012 playoffs by the Washington Capitals, Thomas took a “hiatus” from hockey. He didn’t retire, but he also didn’t play a minute in the 2013 season.
The Bruins moved on quickly. Former backup Tuukka Rask proved to be more than capable of picking up where Thomas left off, bringing his team within two games of a Stanley Cup before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks this past season.
Eventually, Boston traded Thomas’ rights to the New York Islanders midway through the season. His contract expired before he could suit up on Long Island.
That brings us to today, where Thomas remains unemployed with the regular season less than a month away. Rumor has it, though, that he may not be looking for work much longer.
According to ESPN reporter Craig Custance, Thomas may be signing with a team sometime in the near future. Apparently, Thomas has been speaking with multiple clubs.
First thing’s first; it would be unwise to throw Thomas the kind of contract he would’ve received two years ago. His play slipped during the 2011-12 season, not to mention he’s also been sitting at home for over a year. To assume he could get a fat contract would be a lofty goal on his part.
That brings us to the big question; can Thomas still be a starting goaltender in this league? At age 39 and having a year’s worth of rust to chip off, any team willing to sign him as their starter right away is either way too trusting or not planning on contending anytime this year. Who knows what Thomas’ condition is and if he’s been keeping in shape over the offseason. Everybody knows how much more tempting the couch is than the gym when you’re on vacation.
It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he signed on as a backup somewhere, perhaps on a team that has a young goalie needing a mentor. His age will definitely prevent him from receiving a long-term contract. I’d be surprised if he got anything more than two years.
As odd as it would seem to see Thomas playing for any other team besides Boston, its looking like that will become a reality sometime very soon.