Tim Thomas takes the ice for an NHL team for the first time since walking away from the Boston Bruins at the end of the 2011-12 season. The thirty nine year old Thomas hasn’t played a hockey game in seventeen months. Regardless of that fact, he’s still remains on Team USA’s ‘long list’ of potential players to get a slot on this year’s Olympic team.
Thomas will be skating under a professional try out contract with the Florida Panthers. He passed his physical yesterday, and looks like this could be the first big step back for the man that brought Boston its first Stanley Cup in nearly forty years three seasons ago.
Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was clear why Thomas was selected for a chance to earn a slot with the roster. “He’s a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, a Conn Smythe Trophy winner,” Tallon said. “We need goaltending. We need somebody to help us get to where we need to get to. Right now it’s Tim Thomas. He’s going to get an opportunity.”
This is one of those situations where it can be a ‘win’ for everybody. Tim Thomas wants to play in one more Olympics, and his chances are practically zero if he doesn’t skate for a NHL team. This way, he gets to re-establish a profile for himself as an elite NHL goaltender. To the Florida Panthers, this is nothing short of a god-send (no offense meant there Timmy). The attendance at the Panthers pre-season game was so low it could be considered laughable. Florida is in desperate need for some NHL credibility, and signing a player like Thomas can only raise their profile.
In the end, Thomas gets a shot at professional rehabilitation and personal vindication. The Panthers get themselves a name they can use to get fans in the stands, and maybe even make a run for a wild card spot. Whatever you thought of his politics, there will always be a part of us that consider Thomas a Bruin.