EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 9, 2013

A big 'Thank you!' for 'Timmay' Thomas

Bill Burt
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — New Englanders should have one thing to say to controversial goalie Tim Thomas going forward.

“Thank you”

And also “Good luck.”

The Bruins traded their “suspended” goalie on Thursday to the New York Islanders for a conditional second-round draft pick. It marks the end of his storied career — from unknown to Stanley Cup MVP — in Boston.

It wasn’t the ending anybody could have predicted, particularly after his performance in the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago when Thomas became a legend.

Thomas life story is the stuff of legends. He didn’t become an NHL goalie until after his 30th birthday after spending five of his first nine post-college years trying to ply his craft in Finland.

When he finally asserted himself as a bona fide NHL starter, the Bruins fans took notice of the underdog in goal, voting him consecutive “7th Player Awards.”

Slowly, as the Bruins improved (and it was not a fast process) and started winning back a few million fans lost from the Big Bad Boston Bruins Era, Thomas was the centerpiece.

The 2010-11 season and playoff run was one of the most exciting championship marches one of our Boston franchises has made. Maybe it was because of the 40-year championship “drought.”

The reason the Bruins won the Stanley Cup was because they had the best player in the NHL that year and for those playoffs, Tim Thomas.

He played all 25 playoff games, allowing only 1.98 goals per game. He won Game 7 of the conference finals, 1-0. In the NHL Finals, he allowed seven goals in seven games, including a shutout in Game 7.

Gerry Cheevers, the “most clutch goalie in Bruins history,” all but said that Thomas is second to none after the parade in Boston.

While he had his quirky moments, particularly during question and answer sessions before games or after practices in Wilmington, he was always respectful of others.

His devotion to family and religion, from what I hear, was legendary. In fact, that devotion probably explains his moving everything out of his Middleton home, moving to Colorado and leaving the Bruins.

The “elephant in the room,” when it comes to discussing Thomas, is of course his opting out of the Bruins visit to the White House last January. Worse, he told people his reasons, which had too much politics in it.

There were ways around his failure to join his teammates — he could have said he had a sore throat — but Thomas apparently is not good at lying.

Should Thomas have swallowed his political beliefs and made a quick in-and-out visit to see President Barack Obama?

Probably.

But the biggest issue wasn’t the critical fans or even President. It was his team. Apparently, they didn’t appreciate his political statement that day.

It’s too bad it had to come to this, but the Bruins appear to be OK in net with Tuukka Rask. And when Thomas decides to return to the NHL, he will have a chance to bring another franchise to the next level or two.

Thanks for the memories, Tim.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.