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By Nick Stoico
After losing 4-1 to the Bruins Tuesday night, Florida Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas was asked about his newest teammate, Roberto Luongo, who was dealt from the Vancouver Canucks earlier on Tuesday.
“It looked like [Panthers GM] Dale Tallon went kicking some tires and found one that needed pumping,” Thomas said.
Thomas said that he did not come up with the comment, but seemed rather proud of the little joke after telling it to the media.
By Nick Stoico
Tim Thomas has always been a bit quirky. Consider his unorthodox style of play, his choice of representation, and his way of leaving Boston. His most recent return to the city as a member of the Florida Panthers did nothing to change that perception.
The 39-year-old netminder took to the ice sporting a blue helmet-and-cage combo that looked similar to what a youth skater in a house league might wear. It also had a classic dangling white neck guard that brought some nostalgia with it. For fans in Boston, Thomas’ choice of headwear was reminiscent of some of his more interesting facial protection through the years.
As Batman once said, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Depending on whom you ask, and what day of the week you do it on, Tim Thomas is either a hero or villain to Boston fans. The undersized goalie was often times stellar for the Bruins, backstopping the franchise to it’s first Stanley Cup in 40 years in 2011, adding the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP to go with his Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder.
By Allan Muir
Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas has left tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with an apparent leg injury.
Thomas came out to cut the angle down on a long blast by Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier. As he pushed off his left leg, it crumpled under him, sending him to the ice and leaving an open net for Braydon Coburn to bury the rebound.
Ideally, Tim Thomas would have skated off the American Airlines Center ice with a clean slate to go along with the win in his debut appearance for the Panthers.
“I try to stop every puck,” he said after leading Florida — it’s going to take a while to get used to that reality — to a 4-2 opening night victory over the Dallas Stars. “I don’t look at it as keeping my team in it. My job is to stop them all.”
That’s always been one of the elements that defined Thomas’s greatness during the past decade. Every game, a potential shutout. Every goal against, a personal affront.
Other than Thomas, though, no one was expecting him to be at his Vezina-Conn Smythe-Stanley Cup-winning best. Not yet anyway. A year off from the game, at age 39 no less, was bound to dull the edges a bit.
And dull they were. The truth is, Thomas looked very beatable last night. There were hints of the confidence that made his style-less style so effective in Boston, but the impact of his sabbatical was obvious.
By Allan Muir
By all accounts, Tim Thomas looked pretty good today for a guy making his return to the ice after 15 months of self-imposed exile from the game. His reflexes were sharp, his positioning was solid and the old competitive fire was back in his eyes.
One observer said it’ll probably take him longer to get used to seeing Thomas wearing red than it’ll take the 39-year-old to return to top form with his new team, the Florida Panthers.
Thomas still has to sign a new deal — he’s only in camp on a professional tryout — but after today’s successful debut it’s a good bet that the former Vezina Trophy winner will be in the net when the Panthers open the season in Dallas on October 3.
After the workout, Thomas, looking fit and fresh, spent a few minutes with the local media. Here are some of the highlights.
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.
Tim Thomas closing in on a decision. Possibly today. Discussions continue with multiple teams.—
Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) September 10, 2013
By Allan Muir
Controversial goaltender Tim Thomas made it known earlier this summer that he was ready to end his year in the wilderness and return to the National Hockey League. The response was a sound he’d become familiar with during his exile in Colorado: crickets.
To this point, there has been little interest expressed in the unrestricted free agent, but that may be about to change. According to ESPN’s Craig Custance, Thomas is in discussions with several teams and could sign with one soon, possibly later today.
There’s no reason to dispute Custance’s reporting. He’s as good as they come in the business. Still, the landscape is such that there can’t be many teams willing, or able, to take on Thomas. So where would he land?
By Allan Muir
Interesting news this morning from from Boston.com’s Adam Kaufman: Bill Zito, the agent to several well-known players including Boston’s Tuukka Rask and reclusive free agent Tim Thomas, is leaving his position with Acme World Sports to become the assistant general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The new gig tops off an exciting summer for Zito, who last month negotiated a hefty new eight-year, $56 million deal with the Bruins for Rask, a goaltender who has played just one season in the starter’s role.
There’s been no official word yet from the Jackets, who’ve had an eventful offseason of their own. Chris MacFarland has been in the AGM position since 2008 and has dealt with scouting, player contract research and negotiations, salary cap management, and CBA administration, among other duties. He’s also served as the GM of the AHL’s Springfield Falcons. Zito could assume some of those roles, especially the ones that involve scouting, but that’s speculation at this point.
It’s no surprise that new GM Jarmo Kekalainen wanted Zito on his team. The two combined their own small agencies into Acme World Sports back in 1995, so their working relationship is well established.
While those details will be of interest primarily to Jackets fans, Zito’s connection to Thomas is the one that makes this move so intriguing.