It is amazing how much can change in a few seasons. Less than two years ago, Tim Thomas was the Conn Smythe Trophy victor as the Bruins broke a 39-year drought by capturing the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Canucks in seven epic games.
Fast forward to present day: Thomas has voluntarily sat out this season and is now part of the New York Islanders organization. Thomas was traded to the Isles for a conditional second-round draft pick in either 2014 or 2015.
Sources say that Thomas has no plans to come back from his extended vacation so don’t expect him to be showing up in Long Island anytime soon. It’s hard to come up with a bigger fall for a Boston sports star in recent memory to compare to Thomas’ escapades. The ironic part of this whole saga is that he never got arrested, badmouthed the fans or ever did anything against team or league rules. Nope, this all goes back to some bizarre political beliefs and the inability to control himself on Facebook (like a middle schooler).
The timing of this couldn’t come better from the Bruins’ standpoint since goaltender Tuukka Rask (6-1-1) is clearly a guy they can build around. He might have been a bit of a headcase in the minors but he has become one of the best players at his position in the NHL. The only time I ever heard Thomas’ name even spoken so far this year was after the season-opener against the Rangers, but since then he’s been out of sight and out of (his) mind. Similarly, I think Bruins fans accepted sometime last summer that Thomas probably wouldn’t ever play again for the Black and Gold.
Like football, hockey is a team sport and when one guy (particularly such a valuable position) isn’t pushing the same way, well that’s an issue. Thomas still had a pretty good season last year, but I’m sure Boston had more than enough Thomas fatigue after all his drama with the team White House appearance and whacked Facebook posts. He is 38-years-old so he quite possibly has played his last NHL game and that is sad in a way: Thomas was the ultimate underdog story come to life. He worked his way from the University of Vermont, to playing in Europe, before making a splash in the NHL later than most. He even was named to the U.S. Olympic team in 2010.
He could have been an icon in Boston sports history – that is if he had just learned to shut his mouth.
Follow Rich Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate