Tim Thomas didn't play much in Vancouver, but he will never forget his first Olympic experience.
Upon returning to Boston after the USA's silver medal run, Thomas expressed thanks to Toronto Maple Leafs and U.S. head coach Ron Wilson for putting him into game action in the 6-1 win over Finland in the semifinals. Thomas' lifelong dream has always been to play in the Olympics, and even if it was only for 11 minutes, he will always treasure the moment.
"Obviously, being able to actually get in the game and get playing time was special, especially against Finland, because I know so many of those guys and have so many friends in Finland that were watching on TV," Thomas said. "But in the long run, winning the silver medal is going to be the biggest memory. It was going to be one of the best experiences of my life, regardless.
"But that 11 minutes in the game made the difference of 20 years from now saying 'I was on the Olympic team' to saying 'I played in the Olympics.' So it was special, and I was very grateful to Ron Wilson and the coaching staff for giving me that opportunity and that chance."
Wilson was happy to give Thomas his moment and called the veteran netminder an "excellent teammate" in a backup role.
"Timmy was great there, and he came knowing that Ryan Miller was going to play every game," Wilson said Thursday. "And when that [Finland] game got out of hand, without saying to our team or the fans that the game was over, I wanted to give Timmy the opportunity. I asked him if he would want to go in in a clean-up role like that, and he jumped at the opportunity and was very grateful … actually a lot more grateful than I expected him to be.
"But he got a shot to play 10 minutes in a huge game, a game that qualifies us for the gold medal game. He was an excellent teammate and worked hard in practice."
Wilson is hoping Thomas gets some playing time in the Bruins' remaining 21 games.
"I hope to see him play in a game against us, because I don't want to go a whole year just having seen him play for 10 minutes of one game all season long," Wilson said.
Wilson will get his wish. Thomas will start against the Leafs on Thursday night, his first start since Feb. 2. Tuukka Rask, who started seven straight games for the Bruins, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.