For those of you who missed it over the weekend, Tim Thomas announced that he would not be returning to the Boston Bruins next season, instead opting for a year off to focus on the three F’s – friends, family and frolicking in meadows. Er, faith, I mean. Friends, family and faith.
Before I get to speculating on just what the heck just happened here, check out the explanation he posted to Facebook (by the way, Facebook, again? Doesn’t this feel like something that warrants a press conference?):
From the earliest age I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a hockey player. I’ve been blessed in my life to not only be able to live that dream, but to achieve more than I ever thought possible.
The singleminded focus that is necessary to accomplish a dream of this magnitude entails (by necessity) sacrifice in other areas and relationships in life.
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. 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.
What does this portend for the future?
We’ll see….God’s will be done.
Okay, dropping sponsored links in there is downright seedy (capitalism!), but that’s not what we’re here to discuss (but if we were, I’d emphasize that I think it’s really seedy).
Earlier today, Cam Charron wrote “What matters: Tim Thomas had six great years in Boston,” and for sure, he did. But in terms of implications to the Bruins and the NHL, that’s not all that matters. It’s not often the NHL loses a healthy, consistent Vezina candidate who’s still playing at a high level so he can bowl with his family more. It changes things.
So, some thoughts:
First off, I think this means we never see Tim Thomas in a Boston Bruins jersey again (if he decides to return at all, which is no guarantee). Peter Chiarelli hinted he was a little annoyed with his increasingly eccentric keeper a couple times throughout the season, most recently on a conference call discussing Thomas’s possible year off, where Chiarelli answered a question with a sarcastic ”I dunno, maybe he’ll put it on Facebook,” which, comically, happened.
He made life harder on his teammates with his White House snub, which is the opposite of what the word “teammate” is supposed to mean, and he’s making it harder on them again. The relationship had soured – both ways it appears, if you consider some of Thomas’s comments after their playoff elimination – and if I’m on his team and had to watch him walk away from our potential Cup-winner, I don’t want him back when it’s “right for him.” Guys get older, they only get so many shots at our sport’s Holy Grail, so I’d likely think “fuck that guy” if his priorities aren’t team-first.
Charron mentioned that his teammates’ comments about Thomas’s decision were mostly positive, but the article he links to mentions that a few teammates declined comment, which is a pretty clear vote to me. If you can’t say something nice, etc. etc. I think it’s safe for Boston fans to acknowledge that Thomas was a great Bruin, but the ride is over.
All that said, I do think Thomas has every right to do this, and in fact, I admire a guy who has interests outside of hockey – whatever they may be. Those interests are why I occcasionally felt like an outsider in the dressing room myself. Few things are as frustrating as reading Anne Frank’s “Diary of a Young Girl” on the bus and being called a homophobic slur for it, like that makes sense. Heaven forbid you take interest in something else, so…yeah, I can dig that Thomas is more than just a hockey player.
And, he is walking away from three million dollars – your body only has so many hockey-playing (read: big-money-making) years in it, so he must really want to do this. If his heart wasn’t going to be in it, maybe it’s better he go do what he has to do.
But the whole thing is just a bit curious, isn’t it? Do we really think the “three F’s” are the reasons he’s stepping away? I feel like there’s something more coming on the “reason” front. He wants to focus on those things at 38, but 39 would’ve been too late? He knows they have a roster that can win a Stanley Cup, but he wants to forego that opportunity, and possibly watch his team and Tuuka Rask lift it without him? That’s not consistent with someone who’s shown the die-hard commitment to the sport that he has. And for someone who speaks so much about doing the right thing, is walking away from a contractual agreement something he thinks is respectable? It’s tough to make sense of.
Part of me thinks he just saw the writing on the wall – his cap hit is five million dollars, and Tuuka Rask is probably good enough to be an NHL starter. It’s like when Aaron Rodgers was Brett Favre’s backup – how many years can you keep this kid down? So, the Bruins may have traded Thomas after July 1st, and he may have found himself in Columbus for all he knows. That’s not a very appealing prospect.
There’s just a lot to mull over with the very-curious situation of Tim Thomas (which could be the name of a Hardy Boys book), and at the end of the day, all you can really do is step back and admit….that is one interesting dude. I liked the shit out of his Facebook page today, cause I’m gonna track his movements like a hawk this year.
Whatever the reasons for his decision are, and however this changes things for the Bruins, here’s all we really know: Tim Thomas is not coming back to the Boston Bruins, and assuming they can get a new contract done, Tuuka Rask will be their starter next season. We’ll see how that affects the success of one of the East’s best teams.
I’m willing to bet plenty of players on the Bruins are fine with the developments, and willing to take their chances.