BOSTON -- Tim Thomas noticeably used the pronoun "they" -- not "we" -- when discussing his Bruins teammates at multiple points after Bostons Game 7 loss to the Washington Capitals.
The 38-year-old goaltender, who is clearly intent on being viewed as an individual first and foremost, was good but not spectacular in his teams 2-1 loss to the Capitals. A tipped puck beat him for the first goal, then Mike Knuble barreled over him in overtime before Joel Ward scored the dagger.
Thomas now enters an offseason filled with the unknown.
He's entering the final year of his contract, and his no-trade clause expires this offseason. Plus, the Bruins will likely have 25-year-old Tuukka Rask (a restricted free agent) waiting in the wings.
Thomas showed some signs last night that he may be anticipating a trade.
Some observers said they spotted him stepping on the Bruins logo in the middle of the home dressing room -- a definite no-no -- after the game was over.
Then there were the references to therest of the Bruins team as they at least five times during his postgame interview. If one were a conspiracy theoristitsounds like there is a clear separation of State and Tim Thomas going on.
"What it says about our guys is that theyre battlers and theyre still champions," he said. "They gave everything they had to the bitter end. Unfortunately this is sports and they fell short this time."
The remarks were consistent with Thomas' tendency to paint himself as an individual.
He made waves when he skipped the team's visit to the White House earlier this season, a statement that many within the Bs organization felt created an unneeded distraction. His subsequent posts to his Facebook page only exacerbated the issue.
After that, many speculated that Thomas and the Bruins would part ways when the season was over. And perhaps Thomas wants to go. Perhaps he's had enough of the Bruins after they didn't back him staunchly enough following the White House imbroglio.
But before he can be dealt, the team must answer a few questions.
Is a combination of Rask and Anton Khudobin ready to take over as the goaltending tandem? And what might the Bruins get in return?
It would have been difficult for the Bruins to trade Thomas if he had put together another magical postseason this year, but that didn't happen. The Capitals made sure of it. His .923 save percentage only ranked 11th among playoff goaltenders.
The Capitals stuck to their game plan. They made it very difficult for us to generate any offense or any momentum with the style that they played, said Thomas.
Then Thomas launched into his "they" not "we" comments.
Was it a verbal slip? Or was it the first sign that the goaltender and his team are headed for a permanent breakup this summer?
Stay turned to Thomas Facebook page, which should be lighting up with context clues any day now.