WILMINGTON — Dr. Bryan T. Kelly may practice in New York, but he’s certainly had a hand in determining the health of Boston athletes. The same orthopedic surgeon who surgically repaired Red Sox  infielder Mike Lowell ‘s hip following the 2008 season, Kelly most recently repaired a torn labrum in Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas ‘ left hip.
Now 36, Thomas figures to compete for playing time with Tuukka Rask  while also working towards a clean bill of health. He has indicated throughout the week that ultimately the coaches and trainers will determine how hard he goes in practice and how much pre-season action he sees, but Thomas was on the ice Wednesday for Bruins captain’s practice with Rask.
Less than two months of age separate Thomas and Lowell. The 2007 World Series  MVP is set to retire following the season, but Thomas, a Vezina winner just two seasons ago, doesn’t plan on considering retirement until his current deal expires in 2013.
Though the have their age, reputations, respective torn labrums, and an orthopedic surgeon in common, Thomas sees the similarities ending there, especially when looking at his recovery.
“Mike Lowell had already had arthritis. Mine didn’t have it, but with that injury I had, my chances of getting it had gone way up,” Thomas said Wednesday. “By the way they were able to do the surgery, my chances of arthritis in that hip are no higher than the average person, so that’s great.”
Looking at his recovery, Thomas has been encouraged by the amount of time he’s been able to spend on the ice to this point. Though he did caution that “it’s the human body and it’s going to do what it wants to do,” being able to take shots and work with teammates has been a welcomed task, especially when contrasted with the thought of the alternative.
“The hip’s done well enough that that hasn’t been the case,” Thomas said. “I’ve been able to partake in regular stuff. ‘¦ I’ve rarely had to be out there by myself.
“Being out there in a regular practice and not being able to do what you want, that drives you crazy because it’s the highest level in the world,” Thomas added. “‘¦ Pretty good’s not enough at this level.”
Thomas said the plan is still for him to be fully recovered by the time the Bruins open the regular season in Prague against the Coyotes on Oct. 9.
Rob Bradford contributed to this report.