Tim Thomas won you a Stanley Cup. Deal with it.
Call it the greatest fall from grace for a Boston sports star, and deride the man all you want for his politics and quirky views, but the fact stands: Without Tim Thomas, Bruins fans are looking at 40-plus years without an NHL title.
So, you hate the man…why?
Yes, it ended badly in Boston, but I would still argue that Thomas is one of the greatest success stories in this town’s illustrious history. The man came from nothing, made himself to be a star at the University of Vermont, drafted by the Quebec Nordiques, only to kick around Europe, grasping at living a dream which seemed to be slipping away with every glove save that went awry. The Bruins took a chance on him, and it paid dividends that nobody could have seen coming, maybe even Thomas.
If you choose to remember the man for skipping the White House visit or hunkering down in his Colorado bunker, which has become a tired sports talk radio cliche, in lieu of re-joining his Bruins teammates this season, that’s your call. I’ll remember Thomas for what he meant to the Bruins during his time here, including his otherworldly run to Lord Stanley in 2011. Call me overly sentimental or delusional, but it’s an appreciation that has plummeted here over the past 12 months with such an ill-advised anger that it’s astounding.
Maybe I’m biased. I followed Thomas’ career at UVM while I was cross-town during my college years, and recall a certain dominance in net that never seemed like it was going to translate to the pros. I’ve always liked Thomas, even if he went against the grain, almost hiding that bitter pill against the people who told him what he couldn’t do as he pursued his dream. Maybe the ultimate success made him regurgitate that bitterness, on top of the hockey world, and ready to do things his way after years of fighting and clawing his way to what he knew he could accomplish.
That’s the Tim Thomas story I choose to remember, as hokey as it may seem to some. I’d rather remember him as a symbol of never giving up rather than someone who quit on his team. Do you think the Bruins are complaining? They tired of his act long ago, have a budding superstar in Tuukka Rask, and now, are out from under Thomas’ cap hit by trading him to the New York Islanders.
I understand the resentment among Bruins fans. Thomas left the team to do … whatever, with the expressed intent of returning for Sochi instead of Boston in a year from now. But why does it always have to end badly in Boston? Yes, the likes of Johnny Damon and Ray Allen deserve to take a hit from the fans for being disingenuous on their way out the door, so maybe Thomas deserves a bit of that as well for quitting on his teammates. It’s just my personal preference to remember that night of him raising the Cup in Vancouver while the streets outside filled with riots in lieu of snide bunker comments.
Curt Schilling goes off the rails and ruins hundreds of financial lives, and yet plenty of Red Sox fans still praise the bloody sock. Tim Thomas heads off into the wilderness, and he’s portrayed as a loon, despised by a healthy section of the Bruins fandom, immediately unappreciative of what he did for them.
For comparison’s sake, Damon kicked Boston fans on his way out. Thomas has never said a word about the people who he dazzled in his time here.
I’m still a fan of the Tim Thomas story. Sorry. The Cup he gave Boston wasn’t bad either. If you don’t want to appreciate him for that, it’s your prerogative. It is, after all, what Boston fans do – forget what they had and enjoyed in the blink of a an eye.