|Tuukka Rask supportive of, but not surprised by Tim Thomas||08.02.12 at 4:42 pm ET|
Speaking publicly for the first time this summer, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute that he wasn’t overly surprised when he heard this summer that fellow goalie Tim Thomas was taking a year off from hockey.
“Well I was and I wasn’t,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting him to do that obviously, but I really appreciate what he’s done and I appreciate his decision to be with his family and take some time off from hockey. It really didn’t shock me that much, but I’m more upset to see him leave because we had a really good connection and friendship going on. I’m sure he’s happy now where he is.”
Added Rask: “I mean, everybody knew he was a little tired because he played so much the last two years, but it didn’t seem like he was exhausted mentally.”
Thomas, who was a two-time Vezina winner and a the Conn Smythe winner in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley-Cup winning season, became somewhat of a controversial figure for being more outspoken politically over the last calendar year. Most recently, Thomas sided with Chick fil-A in its stand against gay marriage. Asked what he though Thomas’ legacy in Boston should be given the on-ice success and off-ice controversy, Rask said he couldn’t answer because he was biased towards his former teammate.
“To me, I look at it a little differently because he’s a friend of mine, so I don’t really care what he says on the Facebook or whatever because I don’t read that stuff,” Rask said. “He’s been good to me, and we’ve been good friends and usually don’t talk about that stuff, what he posts. All I know is he’s been a good teammate to me and a good friend.”
|Current Bruin on Tim Thomas/Chick-fil-A situation: ‘He’s not my teammate’||07.26.12 at 6:16 pm ET|
Tim Thomas‘ Facebook posts — and his unwillingness to elaborate on them with the media — left a lot of teammates busy answering questions about his political views last season.
The common answer was that Thomas was a good teammate, and that his politics didn’t mess with team chemistry. With Thomas taking next season off, the Bruins will get the year off from having to answer for him.
Thomas, who said — via Facebook of course — that he will spend next season focusing on “friends, family and faith,” took to Facebook again Thursday by supporting Chick-fil-A, which is owned by the Cathy family. The Cathys have been outspoken in opposing gay marriage.
That flies right in the face of the “You Can Play” project, which encourages a safe environment for a homosexual NHL player to come out to the league. This is perhaps he most controversial of the stances Thomas has taken, and the Bruins no longer have to explain why it isn’t a bad thing.
“He isn’t playing next year,” one current Bruin told WEEI.com Thursday, “which means he’s not my teammate, which means I don’t have to react to his Facebook posts.”
|Tim Thomas: ‘I stand with Chick-fil-A’||at 5:33 pm ET|
Tim Thomas loves him some Facebook, and the owners of Chick-Fil-A love them some homophobia. Thomas, the master of using social network to ruffle feathers, weighed in on the Cathy family, which owns Chick-fil-A and opposes gay marriage, Thursday.
I stand with Chick-fil-A.
Chick-fil-A is privately owned by the Cathy family. The company president, Dan Cathy, drew the wrath of gay rights advocates and supporters when he made recent statements that some have alleged are anti-gay.
Cathy told Baptist Press that the company was unapologetically in favor of traditional marriage.
“Guilty as charged,” he said. “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
In a separate interview on the Ken Coleman Show — Cathy suggested that the nation could face God’s wrath over the redefinition of marriage.
“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Cathy said. “I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about.”
|Claude Julien addresses the Tim Thomas situation||07.24.12 at 3:08 pm ET|
In an offseason that’s seen minimal roster turnover, the Bruins’ biggest change of the summer was the subtraction of Tim Thomas, who will sit out the next season to focus on fiends, family and faith.
Speaking at the press conference to announce his contract extension, Claude Julien talked about what the Bruins will be like without the two-time Vezina-winner and said he thinks the Bruins can handle it.
“We lost a guy by the name of Marc Savard who led our team in scoring every year and we were able to adapt,” Julien said. “I see that as a same kind of a challenge. There’s no doubt, nobody’s going to deny what Tim’s done here for our hockey club over the years but we’ve mentioned that Tuukka [Rask] is a very capable goaltender. He’s got his opportunity to showcase that this year and I think when I saw [Anton] Khudobin play, whether it was training camp or whether it was when he was with us that game in Ottawa, practice, you can see a goaltender who has not only improved but has matured.
“I honestly have a lot of confidence in our goaltending and, obviously, we drafted, we’ve signed a few goaltenders as well. I think our depth is there. I don’t really see that as an issue. And that’s because I have the confidence in what I have in front of me right now.”
The most games Rask, who will become the No. 1 goaltender, has started in his career is 39 back in 2009-10. It will be interesting to see how he handles being a true No. 1 with a traditional backup in Khudobin after years of splitting time with Thomas. Rask’s certainly got a lot to play for, as he’s on a one-year deal that can land him a huge payday should he pick up where Thomas left off.
|Peter Chiarelli conference call: Bruins not expecting return of Tim Thomas, Joe Corvo||06.01.12 at 4:54 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed goalkeeper Tim Thomas said he wants to sit out the 2012-13 season, citing familial reasons.
Chiarelli said on Friday that he will have to suspend Thomas if the goalkeeper does not play next year, but Thomas’ cap number will still impact the team.
“As of right now I’m operating under the premise that there’s a strong possibility that he’ll be taking the year off and we’ll have to go about our business without Tim Thomas for the year,” Chiarelli said.
If Thomas does not come back, Chiarelli said the Bruins would use Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin as the goalkeepers.
Even though Thomas’ exploration into taking a year off coincides closely with the expiration of his no-trade, Chiarelli said he doesn’t think that factored into Thomas’ decision. The Bruins general manager said the reason why Thomas wants a year off is because the goalkeeper cares about his family and wants to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Chiarelli added that Thomas had expressed issues of exhaustion before.
“I remember one of the things that he told me after, the year before, we met, that he was really tired,” Chiarelli said. “And we had exit meetings after we won the cup and he was really tired. And he said to me after these exit meetings he definitely was worn down a bit.”
Thomas isn’t the only player with a questionable future as the Bruins are still involved in various contract negotiations. On Friday team announced the signing of Daniel Paille and Chris Bourque.
Chiarelli said Bourque, the son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, has a chance of making Boston’s lineup and playing with skilled players.
“He does have those attributes,” Chiarelli said. “He does have the ability to shoot and find seams, but he also has a great element to his game where if he has to play lower down the line that he can do that.”
|Report: Tim Thomas considering taking next season off||at 12:39 am ET|
According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is considering not playing next season. Writes LeBrun:
A source told ESPN.com on Thursday that the 38-year-old Boston Bruins netminder was contemplating taking next season off. Which doesn’t mean he will, but it’s something he’s apparently raised.
For Thomas to take the year off certainly would be strange. He has one year remaining on his contract at a $5 million cap hit but only a $3 million salary. His no-trade clause expires on July 1, meaning the Bruins could trade the goalie without his consent.
The biggest reason a sabbatical at this point in his career would be perplexing: At 38 years old, Thomas isn’t getting younger, and taking a season off would diminish his value.
|Experience proves irrelevant for Bruins in first round of playoffs||04.26.12 at 2:14 am ET|
In the days leading up to the decisive Game 7 between the Bruins and Capitals, there was a plethora of talk about experience — mainly that the Bruins had it and were thus the favorites while the Capitals did not.
A quick look at the history books reflects that attitude. The Capitals were 1-3 in Game 7s since 2008 while the Bruins were 3-3, and the Bruins won all three of those Game 7s last season en route to their Stanley Cup championship. According to the history books, the Bruins had a better idea of how to win Game 7 than the Capitals did.
But even a cursory glance at the Bruins’ supposed experience revealed how much the Bruins were lacking in that area. In 2011, Nathan Horton had two of the Game 7 game-winning goals, and Patrice Bergeron had one. In 2012, Horton was not in the lineup, as he missed the playoffs with a concussion. Bergeron was limited in Game 7 by an undisclosed injury that prevented him from taking faceoffs and slowed him somewhat from the relatively healthy player he was in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
In the end, long-term experience did not benefit the Bruins, as they bowed out of the playoffs with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Capitals. Instead, it was more short-term experience, the experience gained from the other six games of the series and the games leading up to the playoffs, that provided a more accurate view of how Game 7 would go.
Throughout the series, the Capitals consistently beat the Bruins in blocked shots and faceoffs, small details that often reflect the strength of a team’s focus and desire. The Bruins outshot the Capitals, but the quality of each team’s scoring chances remained similar. Boston’s key players like David Krejci and Milan Lucic continued to be quiet while the load fell to players like Andrew Ference, who was 12th on the team in scoring during the regular season and the second-leading scorer in the postseason.
“At the end of the day when you look at your team, your team wasn’t playing its best hockey in this series,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Before this day started, you just hoped that you would get through this Game 7 and pick some momentum up as you moved forward in the playoffs.”
The Capitals already had their momentum before the playoffs. Washington did not clinch a playoff spot until the penultimate game of the season, and it had to fight hard for every victory. The Capitals went 13-9 in their last 22 games of the regular season, and eight of those 22 games were decided in overtime or by a shootout while 16 of the 22 games were decided by two goals or less.
In contrast, the Bruins went 12-10 in their last 22 games. Four of those games were decided in overtime or by a shootout, equaling the total of overtime games in the first round series of the playoffs.
“We’ve felt like it was playoff hockey for the last 30 games to make sure we get in the playoffs,” Capitals forward Mike Knuble said. “It wasn’t like we had to throw on a switch and start playing again in the playoffs, start playing a different way.”
The Bruins did have to start playing differently in the playoffs. Like many teams, the Bruins rested key and injured players after clinching a berth in order to be fresh for the postseason.
The epitome of inexperience in the series was Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, and he also proved that a lengthier resume does not always lead to success. With seven postseason starts, Holtby equaled the amount of starts he made during the season for the Capitals. Although the Bruins did not necessarily test him thoroughly, he still earned a .940 save percentage in the postseason, which was better than the very experienced Tim Thomas’s .923 save percentage.
“I was saying before we even came into the playoffs that it was good for this team to have a race to get into the playoffs,” Holtby said. “It really made us buckle down and not take things for granted, and that was a big thing.”
Now, perhaps because of that experience gained in the race to make the playoffs, it is the Capitals, not the Bruins, who have kept alive their hopes of winning the Stanley Cup.
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