Tim Thomas is back! Well, sort of. At age 39 Tim Thomas wants to start again in the NHL . On Monday he took another step closer to that goal by accepting a professional try-out contract from the Florida Panthers.
Thomas is an interesting character to say the least. His political views and off ice decisions have certainly rubbed more than a few people the wrong way of late. Controversy seems to follow Thomas everywhere he and his social media goes but what is most important is; can he still stop the puck?
Does anyone really care what he has to say on Twitter? If he can make your team better and help you win games, you sign him. For the teams that passed on him because of those concerns they will be sorry they did. Tim Thomas is a winner and he came to Sunrise to do just that. I am certain that Florida is not looking for Thomas to bolster their political commentary. He is there to give the Panthers something they haven’t had in a long time; solid goaltending. You win in today’s NHL with good to great goaltending. The Panthers now have that.
Even at his advanced age Thomas is still capable of stealing games and more importantly playoff series. Remember, this is the same Thomas that just two seasons ago posted a .920 save percentage and a 2.36 GAA with 5 SO in 59 matches. The season previous to that he won the Stanley Cup with a .940 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA in 25 playoff games.
When you produce stats like that no one minds who you voted for or your latest Facebook rant.
This decision was another in a series of brilliant moves by Dale Tallon and it immediately improves the Florida crease.
Florida was dead last in goaltender performance last year finishing 30th with a .887 save percentage and a 3.55 GAA and have been searching all off-season for a veteran to help take the pressure of 23 year old Jacob Markstrom. If signed to a standard contract the Panthers would have their most accomplished goaltender since John Vanbiesbrouck prowled the cage in the mid-nineties.
Seems like a match made in heaven for the Panthers if he stays healthy.
Health is the most important part of the equation for Thomas and the Panthers. Very few players in the history of the NHL have been able to sit out an entire season and come back to star the following year. It is a tough task for any player not named Mario Lemieux but Thomas reported in good shape and more and more players are playing into their forties. If anyone can do it with success, Thomas can.
Tim Thomas will be one of the best stories of the 2013-14 campaign and once again surprise his critics. Maybe, just maybe if the young cats can get a little offense and get off to a good start Thomas can help Florida compete for the final playoff spot in a ridiculously tough Atlantic division.
But first, he has to make the team.