LOWELL — Tim Thomas  has been a lot of things in his hockey career. He’s been the backup, the starter, an All-Star (twice), and a Vezina Trophy winner. Yet more recently, he’s been none of those. Instead he’s been seen as a contract and a perceived difficult piece for the Bruins to move.
Despite the lot of the rumors (many of which have been quite inaccurate) as the season draws nearer, it seems a foregone conclusion that Thomas and his annual cap hit of $5 million will stay in Boston, which for all intents and purposes is a good thing. Thomas has proven to be able to handle splitting time, and with Tuukka Rask  entering his second full season (the NHL  equivalent of the Bermuda triangle for goaltenders), having a capable veteran netminder is a big plus.
But back to the trade murmurs, accurate or not, that have ruled the town for the summer. The 36-year-old has spent the offseason hearing his name in trade rumors and reading about how he had allegedly waived his no-trade clause in order to facilitate a move out of town. On the contrary, Thomas noted Friday night that he never spoke to the Bruins about waiving his no-trade clause. In fact, he never spoke to them, period.
“I haven’t talked to the team at all, except for the physical therapist that I’m dealing with in recovering from my surgery,” Thomas said.
The surgery, of course, is the operation he received to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He is 11 weeks into a recovery that required 12, so, Thomas stayed on the bench in Milan Lucic’s Rock and Jock softball game for charity.
“If it was a week later, I think I’d get the clearance to play,” Thomas said, “but right now I have to be a spectator.”
With the offseason winding down and the storm passed regarding trade rumors, Thomas looks back on a period in which he heard so much negativity that he’s glad the chatter, including more speculation that he’ll see decreased playing time, has died and a new season is beginning.
“With everything that’s happened I think you’ve just about seen it all,” Thomas said of the rumors. “It’s gotten just about as difficult as it can get, so it was just another summer.”
Thomas told Matt Kalman of The Bruins Blog  that he’s not upset with the Bruins, whom he noted are his “employers,” for anything in the offseason, though in reading reports and hearing what was said about him in the media, he was surprised by the validity of information that surfaced.
‘There’s so many little pieces of misinformation that I’m not even going to waste my time setting the record straight,’ Thomas said. ‘I’m just not going to discuss it anymore. As far as how hard this summer was, every summer I’m replaced as the No. 1 goalie. So it’s pretty much standard course.’
The Michigan native and former University of Vermont star also told Kalman that he expects to battle Rask for the starting goaltending spot when training camp opens on September 17, saying that he doesn’t “intend on backing anybody up.” His words should lead some to the stat sheet, which should remind Bruins fans that despite Rask claiming the job down the stretch, it was Thomas who started the majority of the team’s regular season games. Coming off his Vezina-winning 2008-09 season, Thomas went 17-18-8 last season with a 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage in 43 games.
The Bruins certainly have issues financially, as they will be less than $400,000 under the salary cap once they enter the season with Marco Sturm’s cap relief. The trio of Thomas, Marc Savard , and Michael Ryder  have been viewed as guys who may be the victim of the team’s attempt to get a little breathing room from that $59.4 million wall. If they, count Thomas among those pleased.