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Options for NHL free agent Tim Thomas fall between slim and none

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NHL free agent goaltender Tim Thomas has few options.

Tim Thomas is likely finding the market for his services to be a lot smaller than he expected. (Elise Amendola/AP)

By Allan Muir

There’s no telling what Tim Thomas imagined his future employment options might be when he waved goodbye to the Boston Bruins and made a hasty retreat to the wilds of Colorado last summer.

But if he left with the idea that there would be a ready market for the winner of the 2011 Vezina and  Conn Smythe trophies, well, he guessed poorly.

Thomas made it known earlier this month through his agent, Bill Zito, that he’s ready to come in from the cold and resume his NHL career. But the reception so far has been chilly, and there’s not much reason to think it will warm up.

It’s not just a matter of whether Thomas can still play goal, although that’s a legitimate question for a 39-year-old who hasn’t faced an NHL shot since Apr. 25, 2012. Practicing yoga in between chopping wood probably kept him in shape, but that’s not the same as hockey shape. And it’s unreasonable to expect a team to assume the risk of a contract without seeing him in game action.

But the bigger issue for Thomas is fit. As in, finding a team that needs a goalie, can afford him financially, and provides a setting where he can be happy.

That team might not exist.

Read More…


  • Published On Jul 24, 2013
  • 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.

    Read More…


  • Published On Jul 02, 2013
  • Dustin Penner tweaks Tim Thomas

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    By Allan Muir

    Remember when Tim Thomas was an all-world goalie, instead of a punchline?

    The Islanders netminder (it still feels weird typing that), who infamously precipitated his exodus from Boston with his decision to skip a team meet ‘n’ greet with President Barack Obama, was on more than a few minds today as the 2012 champion Kings made their own visit to the White House.

    Fortunately, everyone on that team understood the ceremony was about the group, and there weren’t any conscientious objectors at the glorified photo-op. And there was no way they were going to miss a chance to have a little fun at Thomas’ expense.

    At least, Dustin Penner wasn’t.

    Well done, Pancakes! That little shot could make next season’s Kings/Islanders games a whole lot more interesting.


  • Published On Mar 26, 2013
  • Bruins trade Tim Thomas to Islanders

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    Tim Thomas was traded to the Islanders

    Tim Thomas will likely never play for the Islanders, but acquiring his contract makes sense. (Winslow Townson/AP)

    By Allan Muir

    Tim Thomas, the man who was an island unto himself in Boston’s locker room, is now an Islander.

    At least as far as the salary cap bean-counters are concerned.

    The trade, first reported by blogger Eklund and confirmed by Arthur Staples of Newsday, has the Bruins receiving a conditional second round pick in 2014 or 2015 for the netminder who chose a life of seclusion in Colorado over playing out the final season of his four-year, $20 million contract with Boston.

    The condition, though, is that Thomas play at least one game for the Isles. Since that’s unlikely to happen, the deal is all about swapping cap dollars rather than tangible assets.

    Giving away the world-class goaltender who led the team to the Stanley Cup just two years ago isn’t as crazy as it might seem.

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  • Published On Feb 07, 2013
  • Will Therrien’s second time be a charm?

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    If Michel Therrien does not adapt to the current NHL game, his next stint in Montreal will end as unhappily as his first one did. (Photo by Paul Chiasson/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s unusual when big hockey news intrudes on the Stanley Cup Final, but fittingly in this unusual playoff year, there’s already been a lot: the announcement that the NHL and NHLPA will start CBA negotiations shortly, Nick Lidstrom retiring, Tim Thomas saying he’ll sit out next season, the Flames hiring Bob Hartley as coach, Marian Gaborik’s surgery and the Penguins acquiring Tomas Vokoun.

    Now there’s another story, and it’s a curious one — the Canadiens hiring Michel Therrien as their coach, a move that returns him to the Habs’ bench for the second time.

    The curiosity stems in part from Therrien’s penchant for installing a passive defensive system on the teams he coaches. Both the Canadiens players and their fans groused at Jacques Martin’s passive approach to the game and it’s pretty obvious that when teams wait for the opposition to make errors and then counterpunch, they don’t have much success in the NHL anymore. The Kings and Devils reached the Cup final because they abandoned that style of hockey. The Bruins and Canucks, last year’s finalists, did as well.

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  • Published On Jun 05, 2012
  • B’s vs. Caps: Possible Game 7 classic

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    Playing with great poise, young Braden Holtby has a chance to write another chapter in goaltending lore. (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    This memorable first round moves on Wednesday night to the first of three Game 7s in the Eastern Conference when a pair of marquee clubs square off in Boston: the Stanley Cup champion Bruins and the newly-minted defensive strong boys/former offensive dynamo Washington Capitals.

    Had it not been for the five straight overtime games between the Coyotes and Blackhawks, this would be hailed as clearly the opening round’s tightest series. Three matches have gone to extra time and of the total 387 minutes 31 seconds played in the six games, the teams have been tied for 268: 54 of them. Washington has led for 74:14; Boston for 44:23. The only two-goal lead, which the Caps had in Game 5, lasted all of 2:54. In a postseason that has seen many see-saw lead changes, this series has had none.

    Additionally, each team has scored 14 goals. But most notably, this is the first playoff matchup in Stanley Cup history ever to have its first six games all decided by one-goal margins.

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  • Published On Apr 25, 2012
  • Discipline, goaltending still keys to playoff victory

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    Long a lightning rod for the Sharks’ ongoing postseason disappointment, Patrick Marleau may have cost his team its series against the Blues by taking a boneheaded penalty at a particularly important time. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    We’ve heard, read and written a lot this week about discipline — or lack of it — in the Stanley Cup playoffs, almost all of it due to the unprecedented manner in which the opening round has unfolded. There has been an elevated number of suspensions for illegal dangerous play and fights. “This was the time of year when you saw the best players playing the best hockey,” Pat Hickey of The Montreal Gazette wrote earlier this week, reflecting on the unusual course most series took in the early going as compared to the norm. “The emphasis was on skill. There was defence and hard hitting but clean hits were the order of the day because nobody wanted to leave his team vulnerable by taking a dumb penalty.”

    Dumb penalties come in many varieties. Besides the sucker punches and hair pulling, we’ve also seen selfishly brandished sticks to faces, elbows to skulls, helmets grabbed and a head smashed into the glass, and leaping late head shots. So it was almost refreshing on Thursday night to see a plain old stupid interference penalty at a critical moment that cost a team the game. Almost refreshing…but not really.

    Patrick Marleau, come on down.

    Read More…


  • Published On Apr 20, 2012
  • First round keys: Eastern Conference

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    Of concern: Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist showed signs of wearing down as the regular season wore on. (Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    If you’re looking for Stanley Cup predictions, you’ve come to the wrong place. As we’ve previously written, predictions are a waste of time. However, we’re willing to take some stabs at what is each playoff team about. What do they have to do to win? What must they avoid to prevent things from going south?

    So here are the keys to the first round match-ups in the Eastern Conference. You can find the keys to the Western Conference here.

    NEW YORK RANGERS (1) vs. OTTAWA SENATORS (8)

    Rangers - Who they are and how they win:  This team is all about character and sacrifice, starting with captain Ryan Callahan. The Rangers play with unmatched passion, and their shot-blocking and energy are exceptional. They don’t lose a lot of races for the puck and they take hits to make plays. They roll four lines and have better team speed than some think, especially up front, which gives them a dangerous quick-strike offense. Some  people believe New York is a one-line team, but it had decent secondary scoring this season and, because coach John Tortorella has juggled lines all year, he can probably correct any imbalance. Solid defensively, the Rangers keep opponents to the outside and have world-class goaltending with Henrik Lundqvist.

    What could go wrong: . The Rangers’ shot-blocking and physical sacrifice could lead to injuries and a depleted lineup. Lundqvist was not at his best in the late going and that would be problematic if it continues in the postseason. They also don’t have a great power play and taking advantage of those opportunities in the postseason is crucial. The Rangers could get frustrated if their power play falters. The worst thing they could do is be overconfident or take Ottawa too lightly. The Senators are just as fast a team and they have played well against New York all season.

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  • Published On Apr 10, 2012
  • Playoffs ’12: The East — Who’s set in net?

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    A shaky second half by Tim Thomas and backup Tuukka Rask’s injury are causes for concern in Boston. (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    It’s the oldest adage in the game: You win in the playoffs with great goaltending. But sometimes you win with only good or even average goaltending (as we pointed out a year ago when we looked at how the postseason clubs were fixed at the position on the eve of the annual tournament), but no one can deny how much Tim Thomas meant to the Bruins in their march to the Stanley Cup last season. His winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP marked the 15th time that a goalie has been so honored since the trophy was first presented in 1965.

    Suffice to say, it’s hard to go anywhere in the spring if you have a leaky guy standing — or falling — in the crease, so with the playoffs only nine days away, here’s how each Eastern Conference club’s goaltending shapes up. Click here for out Western breakdown Read More…


  • Published On Apr 02, 2012
  • Why Tim Thomas’ White House snub was wrong

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    Tim Thomas’s decision to not attend the White House ceremony honoring his team violated a principle. (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    By now you probably know that the Boston Bruins visited the White House on Monday, as the champions of all major sports do, and that their star goalie elected not to attend. Tim Thomas stated his reasons on his Facebook page and he’s been hailed by some as a hero for standing on principle. But, in a very important way, he was wrong — and hockey fans who applaud him for his principles are wrong to support him.

    Read More…


  • Published On Jan 24, 2012


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