A rumor broke Thursday night that Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was considering taking a year away from the NHL. Many, myself included, discounted it as nothing but gossip. What reason would Thomas have for doing so? How could it possibly do anything but harm his career? It seemed mad that he'd consider doing such a thing, but madness is the order of the day in the NHL.
Thomas is indeed considering taking a season off.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed today that Thomas might be spending the 2012-2013 season with his family instead of at the rink. Chiarelli thinks that Thomas might be "worn down," and considering the goaltender's age (he's 38), that could be the case. However, there's still a year left on his contract with the Bruins, and the Bruins'll be responsible for that salary regardless of what Thomas chooses to do. If he refuses to play, he'll be suspended by the team, leaving the Bruins with a tandem consisting of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khuodobin and $5 million going towards Thomas.
The situation seems interesting. Thomas' family moved to Colorado halfway through the NHL season. If they did so to avoid political backlash against Thomas' decision to not go to the White House with the rest of the Bruins to meet President Obama, that's inane. Not the moving itself, but the fact that there's that much backlash against someone exercising his right to not meet the president. Everyone can have their own opinion about the situation and Thomas' unwillingness to discuss something that he presented as discussable, but if his family moving was a necessity, that's sad.
Thomas has until July 1st and then his no-movement clause expires. Will another team want to take a $5 million gamble on a goaltender pushing the upper limits of the average NHLer's age bracket? Yes, he's a Cup winner and a quality goaltender, but the drama surounding something that should have been a simple case of shaking someone's hand and pretending to like them might make a lot of teams think twice.
He's too old to be acting this way for a myriad of reasons. If you want to spend time with your family, that's fine, but retire - don't drag your organization along with you. If Thomas is trying to keep a window open for the 2014 Olympics somehow, he might as well caulk that thing shut. Jonathan Quick'll make the team before Thomas does, and besides... what if President Obama gets elected to a second term and the Americans win Olympic gold in Sochi? Do we really want Timmah-gate, Pt. 2?