On Sunday, Boston Bruins starting goalie Tim Thomas dropped the bombshell that he will, indeed, take the 2012-2013 season off. As TSN's Bob McKenzie reported, via Twitter, no matter if Thomas is suspended, or on mars, his cap hit will remained tethered to the Bs list of salaries.
Thomas is taking the season off for a smattering of reasons. For one, his no-trade clause expires very shortly, which could make him trade bait. His 38-year-old body also might not be suited for the rigors of an 82-game season plus a hopefully lengthy playoff run. But more importantly, he knows that his relationship with his fan base, and more likely his current organization, just isn't the same.
During his impressive Stanley Cup run, the Bruins could not be happier with Thomas. He stood on his head following a down season and propelled them into a Northeast Division title and a red-hot postseason. The marriage looked like it would never end as Thomas rode his hot streak through the beginning of the regular season before eventually getting derailed by his political views.
Thomas refused to show up to The White House celebration, choosing to, instead, make his political beliefs public. Several other sports personalities have spurned Presidential visits in the past, but Thomas caught the ire of the media, and vicariously, the rest of the league.
The Boston media particularly lambasted Thomas for his decision. His absence from the proceedings led to rumors of locker room animosity and Thomas's selfish attitude among his teammates. All of a sudden, a cohesive team was torn apart by differing personalities.
But the issues just did not rest. After playing over 100 games last season, and 82 more in the regular season, the Bruins looked gassed in their first round loss to the Washington Capitals. The Caps played tough with tight defensive play, and the Bruins just could not get any breaks.
If there needs to be a scapegoat for their first round loss, it's Thomas. His 'selfish' behavior separated himself from the rest of the team, stopping the momentum of a team that won based off chemistry, trust, and hard work. Thomas was notably not himself. In fact, some argued that White House-gate was the impetus for his, and the team's struggles.
He had a 2.69 goals against average and a .903 save percentage in the 26 games after skipping the photo op with President Obama.
The Bruins had always intended on keeping the option open to trade Thomas in the final year of his four-year contract. Once the White House situation dropped in late January, though, things got pretty strained between the team and player.
The possibility he’d be traded after July 1 got a lot stronger, and so did the possibility that Thomas would walk away.
It became a near certainty when the B’s bowed out in the first round, and neither Thomas nor his teammates could recreate the kind of magic that was sprinkled all over them during their run to the Stanley Cup.Haggerty is partially right in his assessment-- Thomas has been in trade rumors for the better part of his contract. Rumors swirled around a possible move to the Philadelphia Flyers a few seasons ago, among others. He just turned 38, Tuukka Rask is 25; how long could Thomas conceivably play better than his younger counterpart?
By that same token, the strain between player and team was much publicized, although without any direct fact or proof. No players or team personnel personally spoke out about Thomas. How could they? The Bruins had just won their first Stanley Cup in 39 years, in part due to Thomas having one of the best regular seasons's in the history of his position. Certainly Thomas has his own agenda, and took action on it, but he was still, unequivocally, the starter in Boston.
Following the first round loss, the semantics of Thomas' break-up interviews were even under the microscope. Haggerty went as far as to count the number of times Thomas said 'we' opposed to 'they'. And under the daunting spotlight of scrutiny and disappointment, Thomas must have decided he had enough.
However, the one thing you can derive from the Thomas is his insistence on following his own path.
Haggerty noted that his family was uprooted during the regular season, leaving Boston for Colorado, an odd move for a player with a season left on his contract. Was the media too much to handle in Boston? Furthermore, was the sensationalism created by his staunch views a deal breaker for both sides?
It looked like the Bruins knew the situation would be tricky, and maybe there still can be a happy medium. GM Peter Chiarelli could chose to send his expiring contract to a team like the Phoenix Coyotes or the New York Islanders, who might struggle to hit the salary cap floor and need to fill some dead space. Rumors are also swirling around that Toronto and a few other clubs might still pursue the Vezina and Conn Smythe winner.
For now, Thomas is at home with his family, starting his season of three Fs. But as far as the NHL is concerned, he has no home.
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