Posted by: Adventures in Pucking | September 11, 2011

Man of the Day 9/11: Tim Thomas

Timothy James Thomas, Jr.

Born April 15, 1974 (age 37) in Flint, Michigan, USA

Goaltender for the Boston Bruins

Tim Thomas is just awesome. How do I begin to describe him? I often joke that he is the kind of good-hearted, blue-collar-ethics All-American guy who would make a good presidential candidate in 2016. But since he didn’t make it to the NHL until he was 28, he might want to enjoy this great time in his life for as long as he can, so maybe he won’t run in 2016. (If only!) The Tank was born in Flint but raised in nearby Davison, Michigan, where he played goalie on his high school team and went on to play a full four seasons for the University of Vermont. He stayed on all four years to finish his degree (English major, history minor). Thomas’ college record is pretty impressive: third in the NCAA Div I for career saves at 3,950; led the nation in save percentage for 1996 with a .924%; got the Catamounts to two tournament appearances including a first-time trip to the Frozen Four in ’96. Among Vermont goalies, he’s number one in games played, wins and saves. And yes, when he was with Vermont, he played with Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis.

After college is when Thomas’ road to the NHL becomes long and complex. Keep in mind, the Quebec Nordiques drafted him in 1994. He played for the Birmingham Bulls and Houston Aeros for a while before heading over to Finland’s SM-liiga, where he led HIFK to a Finnish championship. He signed with the Oilers in 1998, went to the Hamilton Bulldogs for a time, but ended up going back to HIFK. At the turn of the millennium he came back to America and played with the Detroit Vipers, popped to Sweden for a stint with AIK in the Elitserien and finally joined the Bruins organization in 2001. However, he chose to stay in Europe for a bit more, playing a full season in Finland, coming back to America in 2002 to play for the P-Bruins. During the Year That Never Was, it was back to Finland, where he racked up records and won all sorts of awards. I imagine Thomas’ passport is chock-full of stamps! In 2005, he came to the Bruins for real this time. He kept bouncing around between starting and backing up other goalies, but did his job beautifully. He did need surgery on his hip and suffered a drop-off before getting the surgery, which led to Tuukka Rask taking over for the Bs’ entire 2010 playoffs run.

Goalies: they get each other. (Plus I'm sure these two talk to each other in Finnish sometimes.)

 But with his hip sorted out and feeling much better, Thomas did incredibly well this past season, as reflected in his full-to-bursting trophy cabinet: two ESPYs, the Vezina, the Conn Smythe and of course Lord Stanley. He set a record for most saves in a single postseason (798). In the regulars he played 57 games, posted a 35-11-7 record and had 9 shutouts, got a 2.00 GAA and a record .938 save percentage. For the playoffs, he played all 25 games, notching a 16-9 record with 4 shutouts (including that artful 1-0 outing against Tampa Bay for game 7), a 1.98 GAA and a .940 save percentage. He’s also been in the All-Star Game for three consecutive years and played in the 2010 Olympics for America. I have a feeling 2011-12 is going to be good for him.

Three generations of Thomases enjoy the Conn Smythe. Aww!


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