If you haven’t already heard, Tim Thomas will take off the 2012013 season.
Thomas, a two-time Vezina winner, certainly is making an interesting decision. He’ll be 39 if he returns and it’ll be difficult for any goaltender, no matter what age, to return to NHL-superstar form.
While you have to respect Thomas for holding up his values — “Friends, Family, and Faith” as he wrote on his Facebook page — the decision could fracture the goalies relationship with the Bruins organization and his teammates.
Thomas is owed $3 million next year, a $5 million cap hit, and the Bruins organization isn’t going to be thrilled with paying him to sit around, or go bear hunting. Boston was likely planning to deal with Thomas’ departure sometime soon. However, now it includes at least one season of hockey’s version of social security checks to Thomas and possible contract negotiation next season.
While the on-ice transition from Thomas to Tuukka Rask should be smooth next season, the overlying “Will he or won’t he?” question about Thomas’ return is similar to the 2008 Green Bay Packers situation (see: Brett Favre). It puts Rask in a pressure-filled situation to perform up to all-star standards, something even more difficult with the lack of a solid backup goalie in Boston.
If Thomas returns from his one-year hiatus, I doubt it’ll be with the Bruins. The combination of antics and age will likely land Thomas in another location.