Would Bruins use potential 'amnesty clause' on Thomas?

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Would Bruins use potential 'amnesty clause' on Thomas?

One interesting wrinkle to the extended talks between the NHL and NHLPA this week has been the mention of a contract amnesty provision.

Contract amnesty is something many assumed would be mentioned at some point, as the two sides finally settled down to the business of a new CBA. The New York Posts Larry Brooks indicated the subject was broached this week.

While infamously wasteful NHL contracts, like those to Rick DiPietro and Wade Redden, would be at the top of the amnesty candidates list for the Islanders and Rangers if it became a one-time CBA feature, it begs a different question altogether for the Boston Bruins:

Would Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli be tempted to use the contract amnesty feature to buy out goaltender Tim Thomas after he headed straight for his Colorado bunker after last season?

It was a downward spiral for the 38-year-old goaltender after he skipped the team's White House visit in honor of their Stanley Cup championship last January. Then Thomas decided he was going to skip the 2012-13 NHL season to get reconnected with friends, faith and family, according to his own Facebook post, and train for a spot on the 2014 Winter Olympics squad.

Some have given Thomas "attaboys" for being ahead of the NHL lockout curve, and credited the Cup Finals hero with seeing the work stoppage coming ahead of time. But it appears more and more likely there will be an NHL regular season in 2012-13, and it could start as early as Dec. 1. Thomas isnt expected to have a change of heart about playing, and the Bruins will attempt to trade his contract to another NHL team once the new CBA is activated.

But wait.

Theres also discussion of lowering the salary cap floor for NHL teams that are under water financially, and those were the exact teams the Bruins had targeted for a Thomas deal prior to the lockout.

So the cap-floor seeking teams may dry up under the guidelines of a new CBA. If that happens and the Bruins put Thomas on the suspended list, then the amnesty buyout clause will give the Bruins a chance to get his onerous 5 million cap hit off their books. This could be particularly important if the salary cap drops in the first few seasons of the CBA, and potentially hurts a Bruins team thats already spent 65.2 million this upcoming season and has 57.1 million committed for 2013-014.

The million dollar question is this: Would Bruins ownership decide to pay off the final year of the Thomas contract to get him off their books?

That would free him to sign with another team without the Bs seeing any trade value in return. But theres also been no indication that Thomas has been working out with a return to hockey in mind for this season, and his Facebook account has been silent since the beginning of August. An amnesty clause might finally allow the Black and Gold to close the chapter on a goalie who turned his back on them months ago.

Beleskey, Liles sitting tonight vs. Coyotes

Beleskey, Liles sitting tonight vs. Coyotes

BRIGHTON, Mass. – With the NHL trade deadline a mere one day away, the Bruins will keep two veterans, who could be shipped elsewhere, out of their lineup tonight against the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden.

Matt Beleskey and John-Michael Liles will both be scratches as the B's try to make it seven wins in eight tries under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. Tuukka Rask will get the call between the pipes against the Western Conference foe. The Liles scratch means that Colin Miller draws back in after being the healthy scratch in the Sunday matinee victory in Dallas.

The lines and pairings will look the same as they’ve been most of the time over the past seven mostly successful games. The Bruins will be focused on setting the tone rather than worrying about what the new-look Coyotes are going to do.

“The road trip is behind us and Arizona is in front of us, and that’s about as simple as we can make it,” said Cassidy. “They’re one of the teams that is on our schedule. I’m not being disrespectful at all in any way, shape or form, but our focus is on the Boston Bruins and getting our game in shape to play. Then we’ll make the minor adjustments we have to make.”

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings against the Coyotes based on the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:

 
Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Cehlarik-Krejci-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Spooner-Hayes

Schaller-Moore-Nash

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

 
Rask 

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

Spooner, coming to life with Bruins, feels Julien 'just didn't really trust me'

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' third line has been reborn under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, and the players are now openly admitting they desperately needed a change.

Claude Julien never trusted Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes enough defensively to play them together, but this line has blossomed under Cassidy: Six goals, 15 points and a plus-11 in seven games. They’ve survived in the defensive zone by rarely playing there. Instead, they push the pace, make plays to keep the puck out of the D-zone and, most importantly, keep producing the secondary offense that wasn’t there in the first 55 games of the season. 

No one has been freed from the shackles more than Spooner, who is back playing his natural center position after being forced to play left wing under Julien. The 25-year-old said Tuesday that getting a clean slate with a new coach has been extremely beneficial to him, and that perhaps he didn't always love playing for the guy now minding the bench in Montreal. 

“I felt like the last coach ... he just didn’t really trust me,” said Spooner, who has two goals and six points along with a plus-1 rating in seven games post-Julien. “It might've been kind of on me not really playing to the potential that I have, but at the same time . . . I just don’t think that he really liked me as a player. It’s kind of in the past now. It’s just a part of the game. It’s up to me to just go out there and just play, and not have that stuff in the back of my mind. 

“I just kind of have to go out there and believe in myself and I think at times I wasn’t really going out there and doing that. Maybe that’s something to learn. This sport has ups and downs, and I’ve had my downs. You learn that you can just sort of push through it. If you do that then things can be good.”

Spooner has 10 goals and 33 points along with a minus-3 this season, and could potentially surpass last year's numbers (13-36-49) in his second full season. 

Most felt that the speedy, skilled Spooner would be one of the big beneficiaries of the move from Julien to Cassidy, and now he’s showing that with a new lease on life in Boston.