Tim Thomas and the Philadelphia Flyers: So crazy, it might work

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Will any team risk attracting outside distraction with bringing Tim Thomas into the fold? (Winslow Townson/AP)

Will any team risk attracting outside distraction with bringing Tim Thomas into the fold? (Winslow Townson/AP)

By Allan Muir

Maybe he ran out of food. Or ammunition. Or maybe the thought of missing out on the high-brow hilarity of “Grown Ups 2″ was just too much to bear.

Whatever the reason, Tim Thomas has finally emerged from his bunker deep in the Colorado wilderness. And after a year in seclusion, hockey’s favorite strict constructionist has put out the word that he’s ready to strap on the pads and stop pucks for a living again.

That’s good news for everyone who covers the sport. For years, Thomas was arguably the most thoughtful, well-spoken athlete in the game. And he just might have been the best goalie in the world.

But in the wake of the White House debacle, he became our own version of Amanda Bynes,
someone constantly on the verge of veering spectacularly off course, surrounded by people more than happy to give him a little shove.

It’s easy to understand why he bolted at the height of his career. It’s even easy to imagine why he wants to come back.

What’s tough to figure out is who would give him a chance.

Sure, there are plenty of teams out there looking for an upgrade between the pipes and a guy with the kind of hardware that litters Thomas’ CV — Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe, Vezina — deserves some consideration. But is he anybody’s best option?

Yes, he’s a free agent, which means acquiring him won’t cost assets like Ryan Miller or Jaroslav Halak would. But Thomas is a 39-year-old man who won’t have played a game of hockey in about 16 months when training camp rolls around. Time tends to be unkind to guys like that. Low mileage or not, that’s a big risk for a team to take on.

And it’s not just age and game-readiness that have to be weighed. Thomas won’t be playing for league minimum. He has a very healthy ego and he’ll expect to be compensated like the elite goalie he was when he walked away. It’s hard to imagine him signing for the $3 million he earned during 2011-12 with the Bruins, and it won’t be a one-year commitment.

Then there’s the sideshow element. As much as he, and a new team, would work to avoid it, there will be an air of “grab your popcorn, pull up a chair and wait for the fireworks” wherever he goes. Maybe that’s manageable. And if he’s winning, it might even be a reasonable price to pay. But if things don’t go swimmingly, why would any GM subject his team to that kind of distraction?

That’s why the Thomas-to-Philly talk is so completely insane. Sure, the Flyers need a goalie so they have to at least kick the tires on him. And yes, Paul Holmgren is not averse to grasping at straws if there’s any chance they can help his team win.

But coming off the silliness that surrounded Ilya Bryzgalov — and after having to swallow $23 million worth of his contract — Holmgren would have to be a gun-shy about taking on another goalie with even a whiff of trouble on him, wouldn’t he?

But what other options are there? Thomas will surely want to join a team that has a chance to win, so forget Florida or Calgary or Edmonton. And the Islanders could have tolled his contract if they wanted to keep him.

Maybe the Canucks will decide the bridges are irreparable between them and Roberto Luongo and buy him out. Er…maybe not.

So maybe his only option is Philadelphia. And since Homer refuses to move any of his young prospects to upgrade the position, maybe Thomas is the only option for the Flyers.

It’s crazy to think these two could wind up together.

So crazy, it just might work.

  • Published On Jul 02, 2013

    Regardless of what Thomas' political views are, he is a genius on the ice.  I am a lifelong Bruin fan and he is the best goalie I've ever seen wearing the Black and Yellow.  His aggressive play, strong minded personality, and incredible way to cut down angles is what makes him win.  Philly would be SO lucky to have him in net even for a couple of years.  If they do sign him and he starts, I say he gives them enough spark to jolt them into the playoff picture for next season.


    No. It doesn't matter what Thomas' views are, the Flyers don't need another year with a distraction between the pipes. Additionally, since signing Thomas wouldn't move the Flyers from borderline playoff team (where they are now) to Cup contender, signing a 39-year old in goal is pointless and a waste of cap space.


    Here is the truth about Tim Thomas as I know it: 

    a dedicated family man and Christian (proven by his willingness to give up the money to "focus on the three Fs--Friends, Family, and Faith"); a humanitarian and philanthropist (proven by his founding of the TT Foundation and TT Hockey Camps for disadvantaged youth); a firm believer in the rights PROTECTED under the Constitution of the United States (proven by his stand against an a President bent on usurping powers NOT granted him under that same document); a believer in the value of education (graduate of U. of Vermont); and a terrific hockey player--as evidenced by the following...

    2011 Stanley Cup Winner and MVP Award Recipient

    4-Time NHL All-Star

    Twice Named To NHL First All-Star Team

    2-Time Roger Cozier Saving Grace Award Winner (Best Save Percentage)

    2-Time Vezina Trophy Winner (NHL’s Top Goaltender)

    2009 William M. Jennings Trophy Winner (Fewest Goals Allowed)

    2011 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner (Most Valuable To Team In Stanley Cup)

    Only Player To Ever Win Roger Cozier Saving Grace Award, Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy, and the Vezina Trophy In The Same Season

    Holds Record For Most Saves By A Goaltender In A Playoff Run (798)

    Holds Record For Most Saves By A Goaltender In The Stanley Cup Finals (238)

    2010 USA Olympian

    ...And so much more!

    That's true and thoughtful analysis, Mr. Muir, not "ran out of ammunition...climbed from his bunker...strict constructionist...surrounded by players willing to give him a push...White House debacle...his own version of Amanda Bynes"...etc.

    SI...if you want a GOOD analyst, you should hire me. I'll tell the truth. Sport needs more like Tim Thomas and less like Allan Muir.


    So having political views and not being afraid to speak them is now considered a sideshow element?   We need more, not fewer, people willing to speak up about the idiocy going on in DC.


    @HopelessHomer That's my point, really...that Thomas' views "don't matter." Muir's piece here though seems primarily focused on Thomas' differing political views (from Muir's), hammering the point home through purposeful but unnecessary vitriolic rhetoric. It's sad that so-called sports analysts like Muir have to resort to such tactics to make a buck. Thomas should be evaluated based upon his record and upon, as you've stated, Philly's need or lack thereof. And though this piece touches on that a little, it's overshadowed  by the veiled (or not so veiled) hatred this "writer" has for Thomas as a citizen and man,


    @ahumanbeing  I agree, Thomas's resume speaks for itself. If standing up for your beliefs and wanting to spend time with your family is seen as entering a bunker, then it sounds like a good bunker. Under this standard, when Rick Moranis quit Hollywood to go raise his family after his wife died, I guess he would be a deranged hermit. I don't think this writer even believed what he was writing.