It was an interesting 2009-10 season for Bruins goalie Tim Thomas to say the least, so it seemed only fitting that he was the last Bruin to address the media on the team’s annual — yet not-so-enjoyable breakup day at TD Garden Tuesday morning.
After winning the Vezina Trophy in 2008-09 and coming into the season as the incumbent starter between the pipes for the Black and Gold, Thomas fell behind the 8 Ball with an early season injury. While his stats (17-18-8, 2.56 GAA, .915 save-percentage) weren’t bad, he never seemed to regain the Vezina form and consistency of the previous season.
Thomas eventually lost the starting job to rookie Tuukka Rask and was the subject of numerous trade rumors at the NHL trade deadline in March. With the team’s offseason underway and Thomas carrying a hefty $14 million salary cap hit spread out over the next three seasons, questions are already being asked if Thomas, who has a no-trade clause, might entertain a change of scenery and waive the no-trade to be a starter again for another team?
"Too early," he said right away. "Those kind of thoughts are something that need to be thought over carefully and over a longer period of time and I haven’t had the luxury of doing that yet. It is so early after the end of the season that I haven’t took the time yet. We have had these end of the year meetings, get our equipment, we have had some other activities. Over the next month I will let things kind of settle in my mind and come up with some of that stuff later, but not yet."
Thomas did imply that if and when he reaches a point where he and the team can explore options, he is happy he will have the power to veto any possible deal. Thomas is entrenched in the New England community with houses in Massachusetts and Vermont and he and his family like where they are in their lives.
"That’s part of why you get that put in your contract," Thomas said of the no-trade clause. "It’s a luxury that you earned to get something like that put in your contract because it is nice to have in some circumstances, some sort of control because it isn’t all about hockey and what happens at this hockey rink.
"There’s a lot of other factors in every decision that people make," he added. "Not just you guys but us guys too. You know I have family, I have kids in school — I have other things to think of. So having that kind of control of a no-trade clause is comforting."
Thomas also indicated that he wouldn’t mind helping this current nucleus on the Bruins finish what they started. He appreciates the fans' pain and frustration and would love to be here if the Bruins were to end their 38-year Stanley Cup drought.
"After the kind of drought that Boston has had and the way, especially the way this playoffs ended, it would be poetic justice if the Bruins could get over that hump and really accomplish the ultimate goal of winning a Cup," Thomas pointed out. "A certain part of me for sure, would like to be part of that and it’s part of the whole thinking process that needs to go into it that’s nowhere near complete."
Thomas said that he made a concerted effort to block out trade rumors and it wasn’t hard despite not playing. Being part of the team and practicing so he would be ready when called upon helped him block out the situation he found himself in but naturally it crept in here and there.
"Even if you are not playing at the end of the year you are still practicing with the team, you are still trying to get yourself in a position where you could help the team if you are called upon," he explained. "So, I was busy doing that stuff and not thinking about, or at least coming to conclusions on the things you guys are asking me about. Of course they have crossed my mind because I am human and they have to, you know."
Now he has to just move on from what was a trying experience throughout the 2009-10 campaign. His career has been full of trying experiences and challenges and no one — neither the team nor its fans — should expect that he would accept the second fiddle without a fight, no matter where he ends up.
“I felt satisfied that I held up my end of the bargain as much as I could or at least I tried to under the circumstances,” he said. “That goes back to what I can control and what I can’t.They know that no matter where I’m at or what’s going on that I’m going to be competing. You look over the course of my career, every time I’ve had even some sort of setback, I’ve come back even stronger so I think that’s what people should plan on because that’s what I plan on.”
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