After missing the last four games due to a groin injury, Florida Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas will return to action to face the team that made him a star. On Thursday night in Sunrise, FL, Thomas will face off against the Boston Bruins for the first time this season and his career. Thomas spent eight seasons as a part of the Boston organization, winning the Vezina trophy twice (2009, 2011), the William M. Jennings Trophy (2009) and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of Boston’s Stanley Cup Championship team (2011).
After the two-time All Star decided to sit out of the lockout shortened season last year, his future was shrouded in mystery with many believing his career to be over. Thomas was cautiously signed to a Pro-Tryout during training camp by Florida to see what kind of shape the 39-year old net minder was in after his year off. After impressing the Florida brass in his training camp stint, he was quickly offered a one-year contract. Thomas was brought into Florida not only to provide a solid presence between the pipes but to mentor the young potential franchise goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Thomas will be looked at to play the same role he played in Boston to the man he will be across the ice from on Thursday, Tuukka Rask.
Thomas helped guide a young Rask during his time in Boston. With Rask now being one of the NHL‘s elite in net, backstopping Boston to an Eastern Conference Championship last season, Florida GM Dale Tallon has cashed in on Thomas to be the same type of influence in Florida and help Markstrom be the goalie he has been projected to be since he was drafted. In a very teacher versus student type, Obi-Wan Kenobi versus Darth Vader storyline on Thursday, there is no doubt Thomas will be motivated to outshine Rask and his old club. Thomas known for his high compete level and unorthodox style should provide strong play over a dramatic backdrop against his new, yet familiar faced division rivals.