Friday, April 27, 2012
No moving plans for Thomas
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' season is barely over and already there's been speculation that veteran goaltender Tim Thomas will not be back between the pipes for the hometown team in 2012-13.
However, Thomas insisted Friday that he hasn't thought past the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, and GM Peter Chiarelli said he's "not inclined" to make any goaltender moves.
Thomas, 38, has one year and $3 million remaining on his contract with the Bruins. He was emotional after the team's 2-1 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, but he said during exit day on Friday that he hasn't thought about his future.
"Not really," Thomas said. "I haven't thought that far. We're two days off of losing out of the playoffs, in a time period where I thought we would still be playing until the middle of June. I haven't put too much thought into what you're asking."
With Tuukka Rask, and also Anton Khudobin, in the mix, there's been some thought that Chiarelli would attempt to trade Thomas during the offseason. But Chiarelli said the team's plan with its goaltending hasn't changed.
Rask, who suffered a groin/abdominal injury on March 3 and returned as a backup for Games 6 and 7, is a restricted free agent. Chiarelli conceded Friday that he's already in negotiations with Rask on a contract extension. Khudobin remains under contract through next season.
"I view it pretty much the same way as I saw it going into last summer," Chiarelli said. "The difference being, obviously, Tuukka didn't play towards the end because of his injury. For me, there's no uncertainty there for him being back and healthy.
"I know I've seen speculation about moving a goalie, but I'm certainly not inclined to do that. Tim didn't have statistically the year he had the year before, but I thought he had a very good year. We have, if not the best, one of the top goaltending tandems in the league."
Thomas finished the regular season with a 35-19-1 record, including five shutouts, a 2.36 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in 59 games. Rask was 11-8-3, including three shutouts, a 2.05 GAA and .929 save percentage in 23 games.
There's no questioning the fact that the Bruins see Rask as the future full-time starter in Boston. Still, Thomas wants to stay despite the rumors.
"Yeah. Yeah," he said. "I truly haven't thought about things in terms of what you guys are asking. I don't actually like to think about stuff in terms of a lot of these questions. My thought process is on a different level. The future will work itself out. You can't plan the future. The plan was for Tuukka to not ever get hurt this year, so what's the use of speculating on plans that are down the road when we're two days off from the playoffs. I don't even know what I'm going to do over the next few days."
Before Rask's injury, the plan was for him to play more down the stretch in order to give Thomas some rest before the playoffs. Thomas played 18 of the last 23 regular-season games, but he wasn't about to use that workload as an excuse for a first-round exit.
"All I can say is I don't think it affected me," Thomas said. "I think I had enough freshness in the first round of the playoffs and that wasn't really an issue. It boiled down to Washington played a good game plan.
"I feel good. I'm one of the lucky here that is leaving the season with no injuries and in good health. Mentally, the last 20 months have been a long run, but, all things considered, I think I held up pretty well."
Whether or not Thomas remains in Boston, he plans on taking advantage of a longer offseason to prepare for 2012-13.
The future will work itself out. You can't plan the future. The plan was for Tuukka to not ever get hurt this year, so what's the use of speculating on plans that are down the road when we're two days off from the playoffs. I don't even know what I'm going to do over the next few days.
-- Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas
"I'll have a lot more time to improve myself physically," he said. "Two summers ago, I basically rehabbed all summer long and then went straight into the season and it ended up being a very, very long season. Then we had a very short off time after that and obviously you need recovery from that long season. I was able to put in some work last summer but nowhere near the time I would want to. So actually with this extra time here, I'm going to spend it improving myself physically and in any area I can figure out."
There was an image after the Game 7 loss of Thomas telling a young fan to smile. It was his 7-year-old daughter. After the Stanley Cup victory on June 15 in Vancouver, Thomas' entire family joined him on the ice at Rogers Arena to celebrate the moment. They were in the stands again Wednesday when Thomas skated over near the glass after the game.
"She was crying and I understand she would be upset," Thomas said. "I don't want to see anyone crying over hockey, especially a 7-year-old.
"I was happy, even though we lost, I was happy that they were there and able to share the experience. She smiled right away and I hope she kept it there because I wasn't able to see her afterwards. But it made her smile."
In the locker room after the loss, Thomas said it was tough to explain his emotions, but he truly believed the Bruins would become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998) to repeat as champions. On Friday, after the Bruins held their exit meetings at TD Garden, Thomas was finally able to discuss the fact the season was over for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"Yeah, it's sunk in," Thomas said. "I believed at that time that we were going to do something special this year. All things considered, we had a pretty good year that the guys should be proud of. It was an amazing run we had when we won the Cup and that entails afterwards a lot of things. It was a short summer and we went right into a very long season.
"We had adversity throughout the season, but, having said that, we stuck together and got it done and finished second in the Eastern Conference. We were one bounce away from going to the second round and seeing what we could make happen after that. The guys should be proud of the effort that they brought all year. They gave all they had."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
|Tim Thomas tries to bring a smile to the face of a crying young fan after the Bruins lost to the Capitals in Game 7 on Wednesday. The fan? His 7-year-old daughter.|