- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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On Tuesday, after the Bruins defeated the Panthers 4-1 at TD Garden, Thomas was asked about his new teammate.
“I did have one good line that probably somebody else has already thought of: It looked like [Panthers GM] Dale [Tallon] went kicking some tires and found one that needed pumping,” Thomas said with a laugh, referring to a comment Luongo made during the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
During that series, the opposing goaltenders traded verbal jabs with Luongo first saying of Thomas, “I’ve been pumping his tires ever since the series started and I haven’t heard one nice thing he had to say about me.”
Thomas responded by saying, “I didn’t realize it was my job to pump his tires.”
The Cup finals in 2011 ended with the Bruins hoisting the Stanley Cup, and Thomas earning the Conn Smythe trophy. Now the one-time rivals are teammates.
“It’ll be interesting, but you know what, I don’t know how things are going to work out, but assuming I’m staying in Florida, it’ll be interesting,” Thomas said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be fun.”
Thomas stressed that he does not consider Luongo an enemy.
“No, not at all,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t an enemy with him even [in 2011]. I was so focused on playing and doing my job and that’s the way I was looking at it. So, yeah, we’re both pros, both been in the league a long time. I have a few more years on him, obviously, but we both have a lot of experience to bring to the team.”
Thomas said he found out about the trade on the way to the Garden before Tuesday’s game.
“Surprised, obviously, at first just like probably a lot of people who were caught off guard and didn’t see that one coming,” Thomas said. “But then I had to get ready to play the game against obviously a difficult team.”
Thomas, who signed a one-year deal with the Panthers during training camp, believes he can co-exist with Luongo in Florida.
“Yeah, of course,” Thomas said. “He’s a good goalie and from everything I’ve heard about him he’s got good character. I don’t know what their plans are. I don’t really know anything at this point. I can’t say too much.”
Since Luongo is back in the mix with the Panthers, the immediate speculation was that Florida would trade Thomas. During a conference call Tuesday night, Tallon said he would speak with Thomas.
After Tuesday’s game, Thomas hesitated when asked if he wanted to stay rather than ask to be traded to a contender.
“Uh, yeah,” he said. “Yeah, but now I’ve got to see the situation and see what they’re thinking. I’d like to check in with Dale before I comment on anything.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked about Thomas and Luongo being teammates.
“We'll see if that's still the case tomorrow,” Julien said with a smile. “Maybe I can comment on it tomorrow after the deadline. Fair enough? I know it's a lot of tire pumping.”
5dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald