Earlier this week, it was reported that former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was making a comeback attempt after spending a year on hiatus. At the ripe age of 39, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner is currently trying out for the Florida Panthers. At the Panthers’ camp, he revealed the reason he was trying to get back into the NHL. Turns out, watching his former teammates in the postseason was all it took.
“You know what really gave me the itch? Watching the playoffs,” Thomas said. “Actually, over the last season I didn’t watch hockey at all. But then when it came playoff time, I started to watch some hockey and it started to get the competitiveness juices flowing and I saw my former team, the Boston Bruins, and the success they had and I was so proud of those guys and what they did, what they accomplished last year, but it started to get the competitiveness juices flowing again.”
Its no shock the Bruins playoff run spiked Thomas’ desire to return to the rink. On the verge of elimination against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, Boston stunned the hockey world with a Game 7 comeback win. The Bruins then followed this up with two straight dominant series against the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. The dream was cut short in the final round though, as the team was beaten by the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
While Boston’s postseason push helped motivate Thomas, you have to wonder how much a factor Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask had in everything. Given the keys to Boston’s net when Thomas decided to take a year long vacation, Rask shined in the spotlight, even becoming a Conn Smythe contender throughout the playoffs. Does Thomas feel like he has something to prove now that his former backup is excelling without him?
One thing’s for sure, if he indeed makes the Panthers’ roster, he shouldn’t expect the same type of overall success. While Boston is poised for another playoff run, Florida is coming into the season looking to rebuild again after finishing last in the Eastern Conference last year. Thomas, though, is thinking positive.
“I think this organization is on the verge of a big turnaround and a big bounce back,” he said. “I’ve actually been through that in Boston before. When I first came into Boston in 2005-06, that was a low point for the Boston Bruins and I was able to see that rise in that organization. The Florida Panthers are situated in a similar situation.
“This is a totally new start, totally new place and I’m looking forward to what’s going to happen in the future here.”
Thomas still has a couple weeks to go before the regular season kicks off, but thanks to a thrilling postseason last year, he’s found the drive to play again.
One can’t help but wonder, though, would Thomas have come back if the Bruins had been eliminated by Toronto? I guess we’ll never know.