News broke last week that Thomas had come to the Bruins and told them he was considering taking a year off. Many thought his sudden interest in taking a year off, was to stymie any trades the Bruins were thinking about. Although I still think that has at least a little part to do with his year off, he came out on Sunday and said he wants to refocus his priorities.
"At the age of 38, I believe it is time to put my time and energies into those areas and relationships that I have neglected. That is why at this time I feel the most important thing I can do in my life is to reconnect with the three F's. Friends, Family and Faith." - Tim Thomas via FaceBook.
When you're a goaltender playing at the level Thomas is (or was) you have to have your whole heart and mind on the game. Clearly something is stealing away his attention from the game he loves, and wants to take a year off to refocus. But it puts the Bruins in between a rock and a hard place: despite Thomas not playing next season his $5 Million contract will still count against the cap hit, while back-up Tukka Rask does not have a contract for next season. If the Bruins don't show Rask the money he wants, he can walk and they will find themselves without a goaltender.
This season turned into a debacle for Thomas, his numbers were slightly down from the his cup winning season in 2010. 35-19-1 with a 2.36 GAA and a .920 save percentage. His team was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Washington Capitals falling short of a deep playoff ride. But more so than the numbers on the ice was what happened off the ice. The big story, when Thomas refused to join his Bruins teammates at the White House for the traditional Stanley Cup Champions visit. Putting himself (or his political views) before his teammates. His decision was a major distraction for his teammates who went 2-5 in their next 7 games. Although they got back on track, since the White House visit the Bruins were not the same dominating team. Whether he meant to or not, Thomas' actions off the ice proved a major distraction to his teammates. Perhaps thats why he's taking a year off, so he's not so much of a distraction.
So why not retire?
Normally when players lose their focus/love for the game they decide to hang up the skates. But Tim Thomas is just going to take a season off, nothing major just a whole season of not playing games! Then he expects to just jump back into the league? But the main reason he doesn't want to step away from the game right now is the 2014 Olympics. Thomas believes he can come back and play well enough to earn the starting job for the 2014 US Olympic team, some pretty lofty goals. But considering he was Ryan Miller's backup at the Olympics in 2010 (and Miller played darn well), what makes him think he'll get the job? I'm not saying Miller will be the starter at the 2014 Olympics (because I don't think he will be), but there's also Jonathan Quick who may well be the 2012 Stanley Cup winner and is arguably entering into the prime of his career, not to mention Canucks Cory Schneider who has stolen the number 1 job from Luongo. By the time the 2014 Olympics role around there may be a long line in front of Thomas on the depth charts, and oh by the way those goalies haven't taken a year off and bailed on their teams.
So why is Thomas taking a year off?
Sure he gave the media and fans his "reasons" for taking a year off, but let's open the book and read a little.
1. Maybe he really is tired and worn out. He needs some time to "recharge his batteries", but that's generally what the off season is for, not a whole off-season. If he needs time off now because he's tired, how will he hold up in 2014 when he's 40?
2. His ego has been hurt. This is the real reason I believe he's making up excuses to take a season off. He went from being one of the best goalies in the NHL to being a complete nut job and having people mocking him. He did not have a great season with the Bruins and was not able to carry them deep into the playoffs, the Bruins no longer need him. Rask is ready to be given a shot at the starting job, they no longer need Thomas and all his "mind games".
3. He's just waiting out the end of his contract. At the end of next season his contract with the Bruins will be done, he will no longer be tied to one wagon. He can go to whichever team he fancies (or that wants him). He's had some problems with Bruins management in the past and knows they are ready to run with Rask So he may want to leave Boston on his terms, wait for his contract to expire and then leave town.
But whats really frustrating about Tim Thomas' statement from his facebook page, is the fact he never once mentions the Boston Bruins, the team he is under contract too. He didn't give any concrete answers, he didn't really explain why he was taking time off. This is yet another scenario where Thomas is putting himself before his team. He's hiding behind his social media, he hasn't once spoken to the media about his decision or made a clear statement about whats going on.
He has now forced the Bruins to somehow trade him, but he's tremendously lowered his trade value which will bite the Bruins in the butt. Whether Thomas comes out and says it or not, he's making it painfully obvious he doesn't want to play for the Bruins any more.
So I wonder where he plans on playing next season, because the Bruins sure as heck won't want him back after all the trouble he caused.
Everyone knows that goalies are a special breed, a unique bunch. But Tim Thomas is giving goalies a even worse reputation. Right now it's Thomas before everything including his team. Would any team be willing to take him and his ego on in another year?