Its safe to say the Bruins players had turned the page Bob Segar-style long before Thursdays deal that sent Tim Thomas to the New York Islanders.
Its a paper transaction as far as Im concerned, said Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton matter-of-factly of the deal that sent the former Bruins goaltender to the Isles in exchange for a second round pick in either the 2014 or 2015 NHL draft if Thomas ever reports to New York for goaltending duty.
Certainly there was still an appreciation for a Bruins goalie who made four All-Star appearances during his career in Boston, captured a pair of Vezina Trophies and led the Bs to an unforgettable Stanley Cup title in Conn Smythe style. No matter what Thomas believed politically or what he might have deigned to post on Facebook, his teammates supported him as long as the best goaltender on the planet was his closing act.
He was a great goaltender and I definitely appreciated what he did for this hockey club. You look at the solid five years that he put together was probably better than any other goalie in the league from 2007-08 to last season, said Milan Lucic. Obviously he was a big part of the team winning a Stanley Cup here and things didnt end off the way everybody had hoped. Its time for everybody to move on. But youve got to appreciate the effort he put forth for this hockey club because he did give it his all . . . hes got two Vezinas and a Conn Smythe to show for it.
Most teammates echoed Lucics sentiments about respect for Thomas contributions and perhaps a slight tinge of lament at the way things ended for him in Boston. Bruins coach Claude Julien stressed the respect word when speaking about Thomas, and the way he performed during the coachs five years managing the goaltender with the eccentric personality.
I have a lot of respect for Tim Thomas for what hes accomplished, said Julien. As a player: a two-Vezina Trophy winner, a Stanley Cup champion and an MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Hes done a lot. Even for those that view him differently as a person, I never had an issue with Tim. He had his own thoughts and ideas as a player and you run into that all the time as a coach.
There are different personalities in that dressing room that you deal with, and you learn as a coach that you have to respect them for who they are. It doesnt mean there arent times where you talked about the differences, but you always worked it out.
Tim wasnt a bad person and Ive been very clear on that. Hes a person that was pretty strong in his own views at times, but was never a bad person. Thats why we never viewed his as a distraction at times. He was a guy that thought differently. Guys said all the time that as long as he stops pucks then were okay with it.
The trade to the Isles became necessary when Thomas decided he no longer wanted to stop pucks for the Bruins, and instead opted to focus on faith, friends and family while putting Boston in a bind. The Bruins, in essence, were just happy to have the 5 million cap liability lifted from their books.
A year ago a Tim Thomas trade would have yielded much more than a conditional second round pick for the Bruins organization, but his value plummeted once he announced his NHL sabbatical.
But thats now the challenge for Islanders GM Garth Snow and the Isles players should Thomas ever show up at Nassau Coliseum with his goaltending gear ready to continue his NHL career.
The window has closed on his time in Boston, and everyone at TD Garden has respectfully moved on with their hockey lives.