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Thomas has hip surgery

Goalie’s rehab is 3-4 months

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / May 23, 2010

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Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who just struggled through his most star-crossed season in the NHL, absorbed his most recent blow Friday when he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.

Recovery and rehabilitation are projected to take three to four months, which means starting the 2010-11 season on time is no certainty for Thomas, who will have his usual summer program affected by the procedure.

Dr. Bryan T. Kelly, who repaired David Krejci’s hip impingement last June, performed Thomas’s surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

During the season, Thomas didn’t give any indications that his hip was bothering him. Neither Thomas nor the Bruins mentioned the procedure last Tuesday, when the team held exit interviews at TD Garden.

“It was suspected for a while,’’ general manager Peter Chiarelli wrote in an e-mail. “He sucked it up.’’

Chiarelli termed Thomas’s injury as normal wear and tear for goalies, who are more at risk than ever with labrum issues because of the popularity of the butterfly style, which places more stress on the hips. Former Boston University goalie Rick DiPietro is among the goalies (others include Ray Emery, Antero Niittymaki, and Niklas Backstrom) who have undergone similar procedures.

Thomas’s torn labrum may be one factor in the veteran’s dip in play, which resulted in Tuukka Rask grabbing the No. 1 spot during the stretch run and the entire postseason. With Rask projected to be the starting goalie next season, the Bruins would have explored moving Thomas, who has three years and $15 million remaining on his contract, to free up salary cap space. Thomas has a no-trade clause.

However, Thomas’s surgery could make it even more challenging for Chiarelli to sell an opposing GM on the expensive and recovering goalie. Their best move now may be to keep the 36-year-old Thomas, expecting that he will recover fully, be motivated from his challenging 2009-10 season, and battle Rask for the No. 1 role.

For the next two years, Thomas and Rask will combine for a $6.25 million annual cap hit, $1.95 million less than the $8.2 million budgeted toward the position in 2009-10. Rask earned $3.2 million this season after earning all of his eligible bonuses. Rask is due $1 million in 2010-11 and $1.5 million in 2011-12.

On the same day as Thomas’s procedure, Andrew Ference underwent groin surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital for the second time in 11 months. Dr. David Berger, who operated on Ference last June, performed the surgery. Recovery and rehab are expected to take two months.

The Bruins have been informed that Ference’s groin should have no issues in 2010-11, the first season of the defenseman’s three-year, $6.75 million extension.

The Bruins also announced that Vladimir Sobotka will undergo a stabilization procedure on his left shoulder Tuesday at Mass. General. Drs. Peter Asnis and Thomas Holovacs will perform the surgery.

Sobotka, who was injured in the first round of the playoffs, required pain-killing shots in the second round. He is a restricted free agent.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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