Chiarelli admits Thomas' Bruins career might be over

707952.jpg

Chiarelli admits Thomas' Bruins career might be over

Peter Chiarelli wanted to make one thing clear about Tim Thomas.

He never definitively said the 38-year-old Bruins goaltender was sitting out the 2012-13 hockey season, and its clear Thomas never made things so cut-and-dry in the Facebook post read around the hockey world.

Chiarelli did speak with the goaltender in between conversations with Thomas agent Bill Zito and came away with one clear observation: there seem to be no absolutes with the Thomas situation as he walks away in the prime of his career.

I read somewhere the other day that I said it was definitive he wasnt coming back. Nothing is definitive, I guess, said Chiarelli, during a Thursday interview with CSNNE.com. He may change his mind. Im just operating under the assumption hes not coming back. I was really surprised when I first heard. My first reaction was suspicion because Im as much a conspiracy theorist as everybody else. The wheels were turning in my head as a lawyer.

But I talked to Tim and he said Pete, Im just tired. Its time for me to take the year and Im seriously considering it. The time hes telling me in advance certainly helps us out, but hes a goalie maybe in the prime of his career because success came later for him. Anything is possible and Im sure we havent heard the end of it. But I respect his decision that he wants to spend more time with his family and other things.

But the Bruins GM didnt shy away from the question when asked if Thomas might have played his last game as a member of the Boston Bruins. It would be an anticlimactic end to a mythic Bs career that included two Vezina Trophies, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Stanley Cup championship and four All-Star appearances, but it might be the end all the same.

I dont know. Youve got a goalie in Tuukka Rask, who is ready or close to ready to be a starter. He has to do it over a period of time to cement it, but weve seen what he can do . . . hes close, said Chiarelli. Timmy and Tuukka are close. Tim has never said this, but he might just be thinking that its Tuukkas time to play.

Ive said Im operating under the assumption hes not back, so we may end up making moves based on him not being back. If thats the case then it might be that hes done with the Bruins. I dont know where that story goes, but its a different wrinkle every other day.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

bruins_tuukka_rask_110315.jpg

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

world-cup-bruins-marchand-091916.jpg

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.