Tim Thomas: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins and Team Chara poses prior to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place on January 29, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

TD Garden in Boston is about ready to explode Wednesday night. First, it’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Blues. Two, a pair of major Boston sports figures are expected to make appearances that are bound to blow the roof off the ceiling.

Reports are circulating that Red Sox legend David Ortiz is going to address the crowd via video just days after he survived a harrowing murder attempt in the Dominican Republic. More related to hockey, more reports are pegging former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas as tonight’s banner captain.

The 45-year old made 37 saves and recorded a shutout the last time Boston played in a Stanley Cup Game 7, helping secure a 4-0 victory over the Canucks to break a 39-year title drought. If it happens, Thomas’ return to Boston is sure to be an emotional one, as he departed tumultuously from the franchise in 2013.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. He First Turned Heads When He Led Vermont to the 1996 Frozen Four

Catamount Connections: Martin St. Louis vs. Tim Thomas – 2011 Eastern Conference Finals2011-05-13T19:59:08.000Z

Born April 15, 1974 in Flint (Mich.), Thomas ended up playing collegiate hockey at the University of Vermont from 1993-97. He posted an 81–43–15 record to go with a 2.70 GAA and .934 save percentage over his four years as a Catamount.

According to his Vermont bio, he played with future NHL star Martin St. Louis in the school’s first-ever trip to the Frozen Four in 1996.

Thomas’ junior year was the best in Vermont hockey history as he along with Perrin and St. Louis led the Catamounts to the 1996 NCAA Frozen Four after capturing the school’s first-ever ECAC Regular Season Championship. He won his second straight ECAC goaltending title with a 2.05 GAA in league games becoming the third in history to win two in a row. He had the nation’s best save percentage, .924, and was third in GAA (.924) while posting a 26-7-4 record. He made 32 saves in UVM’s 2-1 win over Lake Superior State in the NCAA East Regional to advance to the Frozen Four. He made 43 stops in Vermont’s 4-3 heart-breaking double-overtime loss to Colorado College in the national semifinals in Cincinnati.

His first professional stints came in 1997-98 with the Birmingham Bulls of the ECHL and the Houston Aeros of the IHL.

2. He Played Internationally Before Landing Full-Time with the Boston Bruins in 2005

Tim Thomas Shares His Prove People Wrong StoryFrom humble beginnings, Tim's journey to the pinnacle of professional hockey is an inspiration to underdogs everywhere. Learn what it took for Tim to Prove people Wrong. provepeoplewrong.com/ facebook.com/ProvePeopleWrong twitter.com/#!/ProvePplWrong2012-04-06T13:23:51.000Z

After being selected by the Quebec Nordiques (now Colorado Avalanche) in the ninth round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, he eventually landed after college with the Edmonton Oilers in 1998. According to Hockey Goalies, he spent time in Sweden and Finland until the mid-2000s.

He found some time with the Bruins organization in 2002, including the AHL affiliate in Providence. His first appearance in the NHL came in a 4-3 victory over the Oilers in Oct. 2002.

Due to the 2004-05 NHL lockout, he spent the season starring for Jokerit in Finland. He played in all games of the season except one, 54 games in total, and posted a league-high .946 save percentage, and ended up with the Lasse Oksanen trophy (as the league’s best player) and the Kultainen kypärä award (as the league’s best player award as voted by the players).

He jumped back onboard with the Bruins in 2005-06, earning the starting gig after Andrew Raycroft and Hannu Toivonen were sidelined with injuries.

3. He Became a Boston Legend in 2011 with 3 Playoff Shutouts En Route to the Stanley Cup Title

Tim Thomas's best saves of the 2011 playoffsTim Thomas's 50 best saves of his phenomenal 2011 Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe run.2011-08-06T19:33:18.000Z

Thomas turned from a reliable netminder to downright dominant in the 2011 playoffs. His postseason performance according to Boston.com is amongst the greatest in team history, even the soaring Tuukka Rask this year.

Unless you consider that Thomas had twice as many shutouts (4) in his run, not to mention that he had to win a trio of Game 7’s against the Canadiens (in overtime), the high-flying Lightning (1-0), and the then-heavily-favored Vancouver Canucks, a band of elite bellyachers whose shortcomings mirrored their petulant devotees. Or the fact that Thomas faced 849 shots, 127 more than Rask, and had to watch his team’s anemic power play break down time and time again.

Through the 25 playoff games of the 2011 season, Thomas recorded a 16-9 record, .940 save percentage, 1.98 goals allowed average and the aforementioned quartet of shutouts. This earned him the Vezina Award for best goaltender and the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP.

It’s after this dominance that Thomas started running into trouble.

4. He Spurned a Visit to the White House Due to His Political Beliefs

After the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, the team was invited to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama. Thomas declined to attend, citing his disagreements with the Obama administration and federal government’s growing power.

He released in a statement:

I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People. This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.

This earned him criticism from media outlets that not only derided his right-wing, anti-government beliefs, but called him “a jerk.” Other outlets called him selfish for putting himself above the rest of the team.

5. He Eventually Lost His Job to Rask After Voluntarily Sitting Out the 2012-13 Season

With just one year remaining on his contract, Thomas decided to sit out the 2012-13 season voluntarily. After winning the Stanley Cup, he wanted to focus his time towards his friends, family and faith.

Per NHL.com:

“The singleminded focus that is necessary to accomplish a dream of this magnitude entails (by necessity) sacrifice in other areas and relationships in life.

“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.

“This is what I plan on doing over the course of the next year.”

After his sabbatical, he earned a suspension from the team for missing training camp. This led to a trade to the New York Islanders in 2013, as well as a permanent promotion for Rask.

He didn’t end up suiting up for New York, eventually landing with the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars for the 2013-14 season. He finished the year with an 18-24-4 record, .908 save percentage and 3.38 goals allowed average.

This was an unceremonious end to a career that saw him win 214 games, allow 2.83 goals per contest and make over 11,000 saves.

The split from Boston had many thinking he’d never be accepted back at TD Garden, but he may be waving the banner for his first Game 7 since 2011.

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