Thomas: Miller deserves Vezina

BOSTON -- The NHL today announced this year’s nominees for the Vezina Trophy for the league’s top goaltender.

The Sabres’ Ryan Miller, Devils’ Martin Brodeur and Coyotes’ Ilya Bryzgalov were named as finalists for the coveted honor. The Bruins’ Tim Thomas, the reigning Vezina winner, knows who he would vote for.

“Ryan Miller,” said Thomas.

“I haven’t gotten to see Bryzgalov enough and Marty has won it a few times,” added Thomas. “Ryan Miller is deserving of the award this year.”

Thomas’ comments are honest and interesting at the same time, given that his team is battling Miller and the Sabres in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. He also believes the timing of the announcement won’t have an effect on Miller’s play.

“No, I don’t think it does very much,” said Thomas. “It seems like such a long time ago for me now after this year compared to last year. I know I was so focused on what we were doing in the playoffs that it was an afterthought. I was also in the same situation as Ryan where I knew it was pretty much a given you would be one of the finalists.”

Another reason Miller doesn’t have to worry about the award at this point is because there’s no way the winner will find out until the 2010 NHL Awards night on June 23 in Las Vegas.

“They really, truly don’t leak it. They do a really good job of not letting it be known who has won or not, so there’s no use even thinking about it until you get to the awards,” said Thomas. “They did an incredible job.”

Thomas related a true story about how serious the league handles these awards.

“I was told a story a couple of years ago a [certain player] had a couple of long playoff runs in a row and didn’t think he had a chance to win the award he was nominated for, and he called [the league] and said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it’ [to the ceremony] and they said, ‘OK.’ Last minute he ended up going and good thing he did because he won. Basically, they would let you miss your own award in the necessity of covering it up.”

When Thomas was told during the postseason that he was a finalist, he didn’t know at the time whether his performances in the playoffs count in the final verdict. The general manager of each NHL club submits a ballot for the trophy at the conclusion of the regular season with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists.

“I remember quickly having that thought, but it was pretty much put out of my mind because we were in Montreal and I had bigger things on my plate at the time,” Thomas said.

Miller does now, too.