If he still has his game, Tim Thomas could give the Panthers a reliable, stabilizing presence in net. (Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
Tim Thomas finally did the math.
With training camps open, spending around the league pushing up against the ceiling and no teams in desperate need of his services, the veteran netminder finally decided to walk down the one path that was open to him. Thomas has agreed to join the Florida Panthers on a professional tryout basis.
Panthers GM Dale Tallon says Thomas will practice with the team on Tuesday with an eye on grabbing the starting job.
“We need somebody to help us get to where we need to go,” Tallon told AP. “Right now, it’s Tim Thomas. … The more competition you have for spots internally, the better off your team will be. It’s a wide-open competition. Let the best man win.”
It’s an interesting development for the career of the 39-year-old netminder with two Vezina trophies, a Conn Smythe and a unique ability for creating controversy that he developed late in life.
If Thomas expected to pick from a roomful of suitors when he announced his intention to return to hockey from his self-imposed exile, he had to be stunned by the silence. Though plenty of teams could use a keeper with his resume, Thomas was regarded as too much of a wild card after the way things ended with the Boston Bruins.
And so while he waited for offers, teams signed goalies like Dan Ellis, Reto Berra and Richard Bachman instead.