It might be a perfect match for Thomas and for the Panthers. Thomas wants back in the NHL, the Panthers could use a veteran goalie to bolster 23-year-old starter Jacob Markstrom. Timmy will practice with the Panthers today after being offered a PTO contract (professional try out). He'll have competition, though. The Panthers also invited Tom Gilbert. Gilbert is 30-years-old, and he actually played in the NHL last year.
I'd like to see Thomas succeed. He's still one of my favorite Boston athletes of all time, up there with Pedro and Brady. He's a weirdo. And speaking as a Conservative, even I find his political views to be strange. And I don't care. I didn't like Thomas because of his politics, or even his personality. I liked him for his hockey playing, for the difficulty of his path to success, and for what he did for my favorite team.
And if Thomas makes the Panthers, he'll be in the same division as the Bruins. The B's will play Florida 5 times this season, with the first home game against them on November 7th.
Would Thomas get booed or cheered? I hope he'd get cheered. I understand why people don't like how he left Boston, but I can't understand people disliking him overall just because of that. The Bruins were trying to trade him, yet fans demand that he show loyalty to a team that's seeking to send him elsewhere? Do these unreasonable fans still hang on to their grudge?
People never really loved Thomas in this town. They liked him when he won the Vezina in 2009. When Rask put a few good games together in 2010, however, it became Tuukka Time. Fans liked Thomas again during the 2011 playoffs. Then a year later accused him and his political beliefs of being a distraction and disrupting team chemistry in a locker room full of Canadians. And as soon as he wasn't winning Vezinas and Conn Smythes, the team was ready to get rid of him. And so were the fans. Until Thomas wanted to get rid of himself. That, for some reason, was unacceptable, and that's when people who didn't love Thomas wanted him to stay, and were enraged when he didn't.
I'll always remember Joe Haggerty calling Colorado "more politically conservative" than Massachusetts in his article about Thomas and his family moving there. Obama won Colorado twice and the state recently legalized marijuana. Haggerty and others couldn't resist repeating the political storyline, even when it wasn't there (Although I'd agree that CO is more conservative than MA, then again EVERY state except for Vermont is more conservative than MA).
Back to hockey, I wouldn't be shocked if Thomas loses to Gilbert. Gilbert played 43 games last year. He's younger. Then again Thomas might have lower contract demands. Maybe the Panthers want a backup goalie who will also act like a coach to Markstrom, and not competition for his job. And if there's one thing I've learned from Thomas' career path, is that when he's doubted the most, he performs the best.