Former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas does not see himself returning to Boston or the game of hockey anytime soon. Thomas – who hasn’t made a public appearance or spoken publicly since the conclusion of the 2013-14 NHL season – took part in a conference call Wednesday announcing his induction and that of former NHLer Brian Gionta, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, two-time U.S. Olympian Krissy Wendell, and Neal Henderson, the co-founder of the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club in Washington, into the U.S. Hockey Hall Of Fame.
If Thomas’ comments Wednesday are any indication, Thomas, who led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011, won’t be heard or seen again until the induction ceremony in Washington D.C on December 12, and quite possibly, at least in the hockey world, never again after that.
“As far as me getting involved with the game of hockey again, I just don’t see it,” Thomas said. “I have other interests. I live in a totally different world than the hockey world that I lived in before now.”
There was a hot rumor heading into Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final that Thomas would make his first public appearance since he left the NHL and the game of hockey following the 2013-14 season that he finished with the Dallas Stars and started with the Florida Panthers. On the day of Game 7 – which the Bruins lost 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues – the speculation was that Thomas would be the ‘Banner Captain’ for the team just prior to faceoff, but alas there was no glorious return for Thomas to the city he once held on a string.
After what Thomas had to say about that and a potential return to Boston in the future, it appears that rumored return in June wasn’t even close to happening.
“With the state of my nervous system since I retired I wouldn’t be able to handle the energy of the crowd,” Thomas said. “So it isn’t as simple as it may seem. Having said that, you never know what the future may hold and I’m just taking life as it goes.”
Thomas made it clear though that his lack of desire to return to Boston and the game has nothing to do with the team he was unceremoniously traded from to the New York Islanders prior to the 2013 season, and to their fans.
“It isn’t anything to do with the Boston Bruins or the Boston fans especially,” Thomas said. “I mean my goodness, they loved the crap out of me when I was there. Even to the point where it was hard to handle. So, I don’t know, but I would highly doubt it.”
Thomas made it clear though how much he will always treasure that magical 2011 Cup run in Boston when he finished 16-9 with a 1.98 GAA, .940 save percentage and four shutouts in 25 games to earn that Conn Smythe.
“It was amazing!” Thomas said. “Anybody who can semi put themselves in my shoes for just a minute with that season, it was amazing for me, it was amazing for my teammates, it was amazing for the city. It was an amazing year. I think it’s similar for every team that wins the championship in whatever city they’re in, but my experience was in Boston. I mean the energy that those two million people projected at that parade after we won, it was pretty wild.”
Thomas finished his NHL career with a 2.52 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 426 regular-season games over nine NHL seasons with the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, and Dallas Stars, His international hockey career saw him represent the United States at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (silver medal) and at the IIHF World Championship six times (1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2005 and 2008), finishing second in 1996. Thomas also went 81-43-15 in four seasons at the University of Vermont and helped the Catamounts to the 1996 NCAA Frozen Four and led the nation with a .924 save percentage.
On Wednesday though, Thomas made it abundantly clear that while he has spent plenty of time reflecting on his hockey career, he’s moved on to a new chapter in his life.
“Last year’s playoffs is actually the first year that I started to watch because Boston was doing so well,” Thomas said. “I don’t personally have any relationship with the game whatsoever. She might get mad but daughter just landed an internship with the Bruins yesterday. I don’t personally have any relationship with the game. My focus and mind are on learning about other stuff. I learned so much about hockey and that area, and I feel like I learned as much as I needed to learn from it, and my focus is on learning about other stuff.”