While the speculation exists that the Bruins organization or goaltender Tim Thomas or perhaps both might be eyeing a parting of the ways via a deal this summer, Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli said the team hasnt crossed that bridge yet.
The 38-year-old Thomas is entering the final year of his contract with the Bruins, and the Bs goaltender was good-but-not-great during a seven-game series loss to the Washington Capitals.
Thomas finished 11th in save percentage among playoff goalies after putting together a pedestrian .922 save percentage during the regular season, and he coughed it up in Game 5 at TD Garden with a couple of soft goals surrendered in the third period.
With two young goaltenders in the Bs pipeline in Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin and Thomas experiencing low moments on and off the ice during the regular season, Chiarelli said hes satisfied with the status quo from his goalies. Thomas no-trade rights are gone as of July 1 and his contract could be attractive now to a team starved for goaltending, but thats not a bridge hes crossed.
I view it the same way I saw it going into the last summer: the biggest difference being Tuukka Rask obviously didnt play towards the end because of his injury. Theres no uncertainty there with regards to Rask being back and healthy, said Chiarelli. I know Ive seen speculation about moving a goalie and all that stuff, but certainly Im not inclined to do that. Tim didnt have statistically the year he had before, but I thought he had a very good year. We have, if not the best, one of the top three goalie tandems in the league.
Thomas wouldnt come right out and clearly say whether he definitely wanted to stay in Boston or go elsewhere, and simply said he never thinks about it in those terms. He was asked about playing the rest of his days as a Boston Bruins and retiring as a member of the organization and his answer wasnt an unqualified yes.
Its so early why even get into that? said Thomas. Who knows how long Ill playor not? Well cross that bridge when I get there.
He also said he wouldnt change anything he did either on or off the ice during the regular season, and that includes skipping out on the White House visit back in January.
I did the best I could. On and off the ice I tried to do what I felt was right. I tried to prepare myself as much as possible to do the best job I could do on the ice, said Thomas. Thats obviously the most important thing as a hockey player.
Thomas for his part clarified his wethey statements after Game 7 by saying he was using the word they to make sure his teammates were getting credit without him involving himself in the complimentary statements.
Its because Im trying to give them credit without giving credit to myself. They deserve a huge amount of credit. Dont read too much in the theyus thing, please. What Im trying to say is that this is a special group of guys in here. Whether we won the Cup last year or whether we failed this time. Its a special group of guys that bodes well for the future of the Boston Bruins.
How much longer will Thomas be a member of that special group? It could be a year, it could be longer than that or he could have played his final game as a member of the Black and Gold as one of their best goaltenders in a long history of greats.
The summer should be full of answers for both Thomas and the organization after a playoff run that never lived up to anybodys expectations.