What Tim Thomas’ sabbatical means

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.

2 thoughts on “What Tim Thomas’ sabbatical means

  1. *technically* they won’t have to pay him. They put him on the restricted list or whatever hockey’s version of that it. What does hurt the Bruins though is that $5 mil cap hit doesn’t come off the books, which could kill them if the cap goes down after the new CBA is eventually agreed on. Especially since Rask is an RFA this summer.

    • Good point, Ryan. Thomas’ cap hit is the big issue and could be a money precedent for Rask’s agent at the bargaining table. Could have two goalies handcuffing the team’s salary cap — never a good thing.

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