Amodeo: The repercussions of Tim Thomas’ decision

By: Danny Amodeo, Contributing Writer
@DannyP29

Tim Thomas warming up at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Cassie Storring/CM)

Usually, if you’re a professional athlete at the age of 38 and you want time off from the sport that you play, retirement would be the most common option. However, in the case of Tim Thomas, he expressed via Facebook that he would be taking a different route…

“From the earliest age I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a hockey player. I’ve been blessed in my life to not only be able to live that dream, but to achieve more than I ever thought possible. The singleminded focus that is necessary to accomplish a dream of this magnitude entails (by necessity) sacrifice in other areas and relationships in life. At the age of 38, I believe it is time to put my time and energies into those areas and relationships that I have neglected. That is why at this time I feel the most important thing I can do in my life is to reconnect with the three F’s. Friends, Family, and Faith. This is what I plan on doing over the course of the next year.”

Now the big question is what will Thomas do moving forward, and more importantly for the fans, what will the Boston Bruins do? While Thomas clearly wants to focus on some very important areas in his life, every other player in the history of the NHL has had to deal with the same types of issues, busy schedules and dedication to the sport. The announcement was an odd one, and all signs point to Thomas not wanting to be a part of the Bruins organization anymore. On the other side of things, Thomas’ behaviour earlier in the season (not attending the White House with his teammates to celebrate their previous season’s Stanley Cup victory) may have made it easier for the Bruins to accept his decision and part ways.

With one year left on his contract, Thomas may have just taken himself out of new contract negotiations. By the time Thomas would likely return to the NHL, he would be 39. Combined his increased age, taking a year off, and his White House no show, Thomas may have just decided his fate within the NHL. This is too bad because Thomas is a two-time Vezina award winner and this season went 35-19 with a 2.40 GAA, which proves that he would still be a valuable option in goal for any team.

Fortunately for the Bruins, with Thomas out of the equation, it presents a perfect opportunity for young Tuukka Rask, who has been waiting on Thomas’ wings to be the teams No. 1 goalie. This season, Rask went 11-8-3, with a 2.05 GAA and a .929 save percentage, proving that he belongs as a team’s starting goaltender. However, the 25-year-old is a restricted free agent this summer, and the Bruins will now have to make resigning Rask their top priority.

In addition, with Rask being given the chance to be the teams No. 1, it would also result in a promotion to one of the goalies within their system. The most likely candidate would be Anton Khudobin. Khudobin looked amazing in his NHL debut last April, beating the Ottawa Senators while stopping 44 of 45 shots that he faced. With the Bruins’ core of players still intact and some promising talent coming up in goal, Thomas’ exit may not be as bad of a situation as you may think.

The only unfortunate part about it is how Thomas chose to walk away from the team – and possibly the game – that has given him so much and that he worked so hard to get to. His career began in 2002-03, playing four games for the Bruins, winning three and recording a 3.01 GAA. He spent the next few seasons bouncing around between the AHL and Europe before finally becoming a regular with the Bruins in the 2005-06 season. He then proceeded to win two Veznia Trophies, a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe, a Jennings Trophy, two Roger Crozier Saving Grace Awards, in addition to being named a four-time All-Star (twice NHL First Team All-Star). He also became the first goalie to win the Stanley Cup, Vezina and Conn Smythe in the same year. While Thomas can certainly walk away from the game knowing that he had quite the career, it’s a shame his legacy may be tainted by how he chose to do it.

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