Hopefully we’re near the end of the ongoing Tim Thomas saga, at least as it pertains to the Bruins. According to many of the parties involved, it certainly sounds that way.
The Bruins will square off against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, and when they do, it will be their first look at their former goalie since he jetted last season. Thomas, insisting he needed to devote time to the three F’s — family, faith and friends — left the Bruins prior to the 2012-13 season saying he was taking the year off. His rights were eventually traded, and he signed with Florida recently.
The veteran goalie was a lightning rod for controversy in his final season with Boston, thanks in large part to his controversial decision to skip the team’s visit to the White House to be honored for the 2011 Stanley Cup. That was all a while ago, and Bruins president Cam Neely is ready to be fully moved on from the ordeal.
“At some point it’s going to be just another a player,” Neely said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub. “It’s always difficult when you’re a player to go up against your former team and former teammates. But once the puck’s dropped and you’re in the heat of the game, you’ll look at it like another player.
“I haven’t really given it too much thought. Obviously I give him all the credit in the world for what he did for us, especially in the playoffs in 2011. He felt he needed time away to take care of the three F’s, and he did that. He got the itch to get back playing, I guess.”
Neely wouldn’t really give in when pressed whether Thomas’ issues, however extensive they may have been, affected much within the organization. The Bruins president also indicated that Thomas didn’t really change much over his time in Boston, but things did get a little more complicated near the end.
“Tim didn’t change all that much. Over the course of the time he was here in Boston, his personality didn’t change,” Neely said. “I think mentally he was probably burnt out and that may have affected his play. Very long, demanding playoffs and then a short offseason.”
Neely didn’t say whether the Bruins would honor Thomas when the Panthers visit Boston for the first time on Nov. 7. He did say, however, that the Bruins usually recognize a former player when they do come back to Boston.