If all goes according to plan for Tim Thomas, the former Bruins goalie will be suiting up between the pipes for the Panthers when the puck drops in the regular-season opener.
The 39-year-old netminder was signed to a professional tryout agreement on Monday after taking a year-long sabbatical from the game, but at least a couple of his former teammates don’t believe the time away from the NHL is going to slow him down.
“If he wants to be good, he will be good, there’s no doubt about that,” Tuuka Rask told ESPNBoston.com. “I don’t think it’s too big of an issue to take a year off and come back. I’m sure he kept himself sharp, saw some pucks and it won’t be that big of a deal to come back. He’s definitely the guy to make it happen.”
After three full seasons of playing together, Rask inherited the No. 1 starting job from Thomas once his rights were traded to the Islanders in 2010. Rask has fulfilled expectations for the B’s — and then some — cementing his role as the goaltender of the future for the B’s, but he was nothing but happy to hear that the two-time Vezina Trophy winner is on the comeback trail.
“I was happy to see him coming back,” Rask said. “Like I’ve said before, I wouldn’t be surprised if this happened and it did. I’m hoping that he’s going to make the team, get a good contract and get a good year out of it.”
Rask isn’t the only Bruin rooting for Thomas, either. Gregory Campbell understands the “itch” Thomas felt that comes from watching games from the sidelines, as he continues to recover from a broken leg he suffered during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Penguins. Campbell noted that Thomas is facing somewhat of an uphill battle, but cites his competitive nature and refreshed mindset coming into the upcoming season as reasons he’ll be just as tough in 2013.
“I’ll say this: It’s not easy for anybody to take that amount of time off and come back, but if anybody can do it I’m sure Timmy is a strong candidate,” Campbell said. “He likes to prove people wrong. He’s a super-competitive athlete and he’s a talented player as well and that will bode well for him. He obviously had his reasons to take some time off, so sometimes you can reflect a little bit, refresh your mind and body, come back and you feel that excitement for the game again. I think Timmy is going to do well.”