After loss, Thomas says no grudges or regrets

After loss, Thomas says no grudges or regrets
October 18, 2013, 1:45 am
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SUNRISE, Fla. – Tim Thomas didn’t want to speak prior to the game Thursday presumably to stay focused on the task at hand of playing his former teammates with the  Bruins. Though Thomas didn’t end up reaching his goal of beating his old team in a 3-2 loss when a Reilly Smith shot squirted through his leg pads with 59 seconds remaining in the third period, the 39-year-old still managed to acquit himself well while making 37 saves in the 3-2 loss.

It was a mixed bag for the two-time Vezina Trophy winner and Conn Smythe recipient, to be sure.

He wasn’t great in the first period while letting up a goals to Daniel Paille and Dougie Hamilton, and the Smith game-winner squirting through Thomas’ five hole is never a good look for a goalie. Still, in between, Thomas was brilliant while making the bulk of his saves: his leg-pad stop on a Jarome Iginla partial breakaway in the third period while cutting through the heart of Florida’s defense was vintage Timmy.

Fortunately for the Bruins, the creaky netminder, the one that’s pushing 40 and coming off a year-long sabbatical, showed up in the closing minutes just long enough to let his old team off the hook.  

“It hurts the way [the game] ended up,” admitted Thomas. “It was an awesome time [in Boston], but this is a new chapter in my life. I probably should have wanted to win worse [tonight] because I really didn’t go into it with that vengeful attitude of ‘Oh, I want to beat my old team.’

“I went into it like I approach every game. I thought about it, and almost felt guilty because it was my old team. But I’m not going to let that happen again.”

That was enough about the present day, and on to the oft-discussed past with the former B’s goaltender.

After the game, Thomas said he had no regrets about skipping out on the White House visit with his Stanley Cup-winning teammates, and didn’t have any second thoughts about walking out on the Bruins in the shortened 2012-13 season. His “Friends, Faith and Family” plan worked out for Thomas, and for that part of it nobody should be holding a grudge.

“I made a decision based on what was best for me and my family. I felt the team was in capable hands,” said Thomas. “I knew where Tuukka [Rask] was in his development and I was obviously proven right. I went and did something that was incredible for my life, and incredible for my family’s life. I don’t regret it. That’s the most important thing.”

Did the media firestorm from skipping out on the White House visit contribute to any exhaustion that Thomas felt leading to the year away from hockey?

“Yeah…a little bit. But now I’m tougher and stronger, and I could care less what other people say about that,” said Thomas. “I’ll stand by my decision. I feel I did the right thing.

“There were a lot of choices I made over the two-year period, and I can’t sit here and honestly say I don’t regret anything. But the two major decisions about not going to the White House and taking the year off, I don’t regret those.”

Thomas also addressed the timing of his decision to sit out the 2013 season, and how things went down with the Bruins. It’s the two-time Vezina Trophy winner’s contention that he was still mulling the option of possibly playing for the Bruins, or somebody else, before the lockout became official.

“I had been thinking about it during the [2011-12 season], but I didn’t know for sure at any time. I trained all the way through the beginning of last season just in case when the season started that the itch came back,” said Thomas. “I told the Bruins that I was considering [sitting out the season], and it was supposed to be kept on the down low. Then it became public where I didn’t want anything to become public.

“I was pretty sure there was a lockout coming up and I didn’t have to make a decision for a pretty long time. I felt like I was forced into a corner.”

Whatever the details behind it, Thomas seemed determined to sit out the season and it was pretty apparent to most people he’d played his last game as a member of the Bruins after they bowed out in seven games to the Washington Capitals two years ago. All of his actions and words spoke to an individual that had his fill of the roller-coaster ride in Boston, and was ready to get away for a while.

All of those decisions led to the present-day Thomas trying to make saves on former teammates, and attempting to beat his longtime goaltending partner in Tuukka Rask while reclaiming the twilight of his NHL career.

“It certainly was different playing against guys that you played with for so long,” said Thomas. “I tried to approach it just like any other game, but having said that it was a big game for coming back after a while. Obviously facing your former team has a lot of ‘to do’ around it. I was a little bit nervous, but not too bad.

“I had really been focused on my return [to the lineup]. I think the last time I’d missed time [to an injury] was like 2007, so when you’re hurt it really takes all of your attention away. So it was good in a way.”

It’s also good that the first time playing each other is over following the acrimonious end to Thomas’ stint in Boston. Now it can simply evolve into a good reason to catch the Bruins/Panthers games where there hadn’t been any before.