That is twice now, Timothy.
I hate it when Sports and Real Life intertwine and that is twice now in less than half a year that Tim Thomas has thrown my life a kilter and brought the two together.
Might as well, I guess, because never again will one of the most memorable characters of the Boston sports scene be able to do so as, just like that, with a simple Facebook post, the Tim Thomas Era in Boston Bruins’ lore has come to an end.
While most of my Facebook posts simply unravel my mother’s psyche, Thomas managed to unravel and entire fan base when his post on Sunday put an end to days of rumors, confirming that he would not be playing for the Boston Bruins during the 2012-2013 season, the final year of his contract.
“The singleminded focus that is necessary to accomplish a dream of this magnitude entails (by necessity) sacrifice in other areas and relationships in life,” said Thomas in his post.
“At the age of 38, I believe it is time to put my time and energies into those areas and relationships that I have neglected. That is why at this time I feel the most important thing I can do in my life is to reconnect with the three F’s.
“Friends, Family, and Faith.”
And after a few shameless plugs, the former Conn Smythe winner concluded his statement by saying, “What does this portend for the future?
Thomas never definitively says he is done with hockey for 2012-2013 or beyond, but one thing is for sure, he will never play for the Boston Bruins again.
It is hard to believe it came to such an end. Just one year ago, Thomas was the toast of Boston, of hockey and possibly all of sports. After his failures in 2010, it was a year of redemption for Thomas in 2011 and the aging vet put together a year for the ages. It was a year that, onto itself, will always be remembered as one of the best ever put together by an athlete and left many in the hockey community asking where Thomas ranked amongst the All-Time Bruins’ greats? Was he the best Bruins goalie ever? Would his #30 be the next raised to the rafters?
There was not a soul in the city who did not love Tim Thomas.
Now, like jilted lovers, we are left to ask how he could do this to us? Why? What happened? And where does this put him amongst the All-Time Biggest Boston Sports Scumbags?
As a fan, Thomas committed one of the most disgraceful acts in sports with his act of betrayal. There are not many people who would argue that, at 38-years old, Thomas’ best years were not behind him, but he was still the star of a Stanley Cup contending team, the crux of the team’s success and the starting goaltender for one of the most storied franchises in the game. With hockey life left he was selfishly leaving the team high and dry, without a credible NHL goaltender under contract, like a pouting child. Could the Black-and-Gold faithful feel anything less than spurned?
Tim Thomas walks away from the Bruins as one of the top goaltenders in the NHL, but it is easy to wonder if Tim Thomas would even be Tim Thomas if the Bruins had not twice plucked him off the scrap heap and given him a job or if he were not playing for head coach Claude Julien and his “let’s win the game 0-0,” defense only, at all cost system?
Boston burned again by a star athlete who suckered the city into believing that they transcended the spoiled athlete mentality, leaving us all to figure out what the man means to us and how we should really feel?
As a team, however, the Bruins will survive the loss of Thomas. Even before the events of the last week, the end in Boston for Thomas was not in the far too distant future. Not only was he becoming more trouble than good in the locker room, if you believe everything you read in the papers, reports have already begun to leak that the Bruins had always planned on trading Thomas this off-season, once his no movement clause lifts on July 1. The team does lose some leverage on both the trade market for Thomas and in negotiations with the now projected starter and current restricted free agent Tuukka Rask, but this does not drastically hurt the business plan. Unfortunately, rather than use the $4-million in cap relief they would have inevitably received when placing Marc Savard on the long-term injured reserve, that will now be put towards Thomas’ $5-million cap hit, unless they can ship him out of town.
While they might not be able to get as much for him as they would have last week, there is still a chance to move Thomas on the trade market and get that cap hit off the books, the more important focus now than what they actually get in return. Pending the outcome of the forthcoming labor apocalypse in the NHL, a Tim Thomas who refuses to play, but carries a big cap hit, might be enticing to a small market club looking to take a big chunk out of that salary cap floor with a player they do not actually have to pay.
As a man, however, Thomas brings Real Life to Sports and presents an interesting quandary. There are as many holes in Thomas’ post as there were when former Major League pitcher Mike Hampton told the world he was signing a contract with the Colorado Rockies because of the Denver school system and not because it made him the highest paid pitcher in baseball at the time, but let us assume Thomas is telling the truth. For all the oddities he has displayed in public over the last six months, it has never been reported that the enigmatic goaltender was anything but a genuine and honest guy, who believes deeply in his convictions. Maybe Thomas really is taking time off from the game not because he is tired of the Bruins organization and the run around they have given him for years, but because there really is more to life than hockey.
Sports have become modern day mythology with its stars treated like demigods. The better an athlete becomes, the harder it is to see them as a fallible human and, in that regard, Thomas is on to something with his Facebook statement. Whether to the degree the goaltender has transcended or not, success in the World of Sports takes a sacrificing loss of self and it can be an extremely lonely journey to accomplish that mission. Grammatical error aside, Thomas is right that it takes a single-minded focus if you want to make it in that world. To make it at a high level, in any capacity, you become the game. Win at all cost, and in terms of a life outside of hockey, that cost can be quite great.
The natural reaction for the fan is to rip Thomas for being selfish and just walking away, turning back on his god-like status and the countless Bruins legions, but how many of us would relish the opportunity to step back from work for a year to spend more time with the people that matter most in our lives? If true, should we not take his profession out of it, humanize Thomas and applaud the goaltender for making a decision many more of us should make in our lives? Fortunately for him, Thomas has the money and the family to make such a decision and fall back on, while many of us have just our petty salaries our fish to keep us company.
Maybe we are just all jealous he is able to do what we cannot.
I might hate it when sports and life come together and take shots at Thomas for doing it twice. Might also take more shots for the goaltender for forcing his way out of town in such a disgraceful fashion. The issue of “is there more to life?”, however, is a poignant one and Thomas’ take on such things should give us all a little more to think about.
Sure, sports can be myth and sports can be life. Sports to some, however, is also a business, also a job. It is important to love your work, but it is still just that, and should we let our work define us?
No matter what your opinions on Thomas’ decision to leave the Bruins, it is hard to believe that such a heroic legend has come to such an end. The end is here, however. There is no turning back. The Reign of 2-1 Tim is over and now it is officially Tuukka Time.
About the Author
Written by Matt Preston
I'm no Heminway or Haggerty, but keeping the dream alive, even if I'm pretty sure my Nana is my only follower. Self-deprecation is key, grammar is optional.