Who would’ve pegged a mid-October matchup between the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers as must-see TV when the NHL schedule was released? Probably nobody. However, tonight’s bout between the two clubs has some increased intrigue thanks to an announcement the Panthers recently made.
It appears Florida goalie Tim Thomas, who spent eight seasons with the Bruins, will be returning from injury just in time to face his former teammates. Thomas injured his groin on October 8 during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers, and you have to think he did everything he could to speed up his recovery in time for this game.
Thomas’ story with the Bruins has been told numerous times, and for good reason. After toiling around in minor leagues and, eventually, Sweden and Finland, the Bruins took a flier on Thomas. What occurred from there was the stuff players dream about; two Vezina Trophies, multiple all star invites, a spot on the US men’s hockey team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and, in 2011, a Stanley Cup Championship. Thanks to his stellar play during said title run, Thomas added a Conn Smythe Trophy to his collection as well.
Things went sour the following year, thanks to a polarizing protest against participating in the Bruins’ visit to the White House. After the 2011-12 season, Thomas took a year-long hiatus from hockey. Boston eventually traded his rights to the New York Islanders, however Thomas never suited up for them.
Now, after such a crazy journey, Thomas will reunite with his former Boston teammates, this time as their opponent. Bruins coach Claude Julien addressed the situation, stating that, whatever happens, his team has moved on from the past.
“If he’s there, we’ll just have to face him,” Julien said. “Again, I can’t say enough about what he’s done for us here and for our hockey club. It’s time to turn the page and we’ve got Tuukka Rask now that our players love and think that he’s doing a fantastic job here.”
He does seem to have a point. Thanks to the stellar play the Bruins have received from Rask, the team hasn’t exactly found themselves pining for the glory days with Thomas.
That being said, Rask told Boston media he’d be more than happy to make things interesting tonight. According to the Boston Globe, he offered to fight Thomas during the game. Not sure who wins that bout, but it sure would be entertaining to see.