“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,” Thomas said on his Facebook page Sunday. “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.”
Though Thomas did not go so far as confirm he would definitely take the 2012-13 season off, Chiarelli said the team is moving forward as if Thomas won’t be playing.
"I almost have to operate under the assumption he isn't coming back," Chiarelli said Friday. "I've had some discussions with Tim and he's told me that he wants to play in the Olympics the following year, so I'll have more discussions with him later on. But we've got two very capable goalies in [Tuukka] Rask and [Anton] Khudobin, so I'd be more than satisfied if that's who we have to go with."
If Thomas indeed sits out, Rask would be the Bruins’ top choice to replace him. The 25-year-old Rask is a restricted free agent and could command a long-term contract from Boston. Rask has long been projected as a rising star; he supplanted Thomas as the starter in 2009-10, but Thomas regained his position the next year and remained there.
Thomas is entering the final season of a contract that will pay him $3 million and will cost the Bruins $5 million against the cap. Chiarelli said if Thomas hasn't made a final decision on whether he will play by the beginning of next season, he would suspend the goalie.
But even if the Bruins suspend Thomas, the cap hit still would count against the team for next season. However, the Bruins would gain $4 million of that back by placing injured center Marc Savard on long-term injury reserve.
"If he wasn't playing I would have to suspend him," Chiarelli said of Thomas. "His cap number would still be on the cap. We would have relief through Savard being on the cap, so it would almost be a wash that way, and that's the way we would proceed through the year. We're not seriously cramped from the cap perspective. As I've said, we've got Marc Savard on LTI and he's at $4 million, and Tim's at $5 million, so do the math and we're maybe a million short. So we're not seriously disabled there. It's something that I'll approach delicately with Tim."