Tim Thomas has had a wild career arc. He’s had to go overseas to play professional on more than occasion, he’s played in hockey’s minor leagues in North America, and then he was later signed by the Boston Bruins for depth purposes at goalie in another NHL stint later in his career. Thomas is now a Stanley Cup Champion. And no, he didn’t win it all as a reserve goalie who contributed insignificantly. Thomas is also a Conn Smythe Trophy winner, awarded to the most valuable player to his team in each year’s Finals. After a long and winding career path to get to this point. Thomas is at the top of his game in his mid 30′s with the hardware to prove it. It must have been very hard for him to believe that this day would finally come after all the struggles early on in his career.
Thomas was a brick wall in between the pipes with NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, saying there wasn’t another goalie who gave up fewer goals than the Bruins goaltender did in a seven game series. Thomas was also said to have been really enjoying the moment after becoming a Stanley Cup Champion as Bettman noted he hadn’t seen any other player like this before having that much fun. The city of Boston has been very fortunate to say the least in terms of having championship teams over the last decade in the four major professional sports. Thomas helped the Bruins bring home their first Stanley Cup since 1972 and hockey has been rejuvenated back in Beantown. Tim Thomas joined ESPN Radio with Ryen Russillo and Jalen Rose to discuss being at the top of his game in his mid 30′s after being in the minors and overseas for the beginning of his NHL career, not knowing what to say after winning game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup team being defined by toughness, and how happy he is to have provided the city of Boston with the joy and memories that come along with winning their first Stanley Cup since 1972.
Did you ever imagine this would happen to you in your career where you would be a Stanley Cup Champion and a Conn Smythe Trophy winner?
“I was always trying to get better as a player. Every year my goal was to get better, but I don’t think I really believed I could do something like I did this year until this year. The beginning of the season my confidence just started to grow and I started to put some of these goals in my head. I set goals of winning the Conn Smythe Trophy and wining the Stanley Cup. I visualized those things and they were able to come to fruition.”
After game seven of the Stanley Cup was over and you were skating around and it saw you be so real where you didn’t know what to say. Is that something you look back on? You didn’t know what to say?
“Yeah I didn’t know what to say and I was exhausted. The physical, mental and emotional energy that it takes to win a championship like that is incredible. I was drained by game seven. I just feel blessed I had that good of a performance in game seven because in reality I was at the end of rope in physical strength, emotional strength and mental strength.”
Was your team about toughness? You seemed to beat down the Canucks with your toughness?
“Yeah, I agree to win a championship like that especially a Stanley Cup a lot of things have to go your way. I think Vancouver was the more beat up team out of the two of us and I think that worked to our advantage. We were relatively fortunate considering the injuries we had. We did have quite a few more than people will ever know, but I think Vancouver definitely had more than that especially to their key players like [Ryan] Kesler and [Kevin] Bieksa were nursing some injuries of some sort, but yes overall our team toughness and the way that we are built helped us to hold out in these situations better.”
What’s it been like in Boston after winning the Stanley Cup over the last week?
“I’m so happy for this city. I’ve been here a long time. I was here when there was 9,000 fans at a home opening game here five or six years ago and I was always told that Boston is a hockey city. I know there are these other sports and the fans love them too, but because of the 1970 and 1972 championships there is this whole generation of people that are huge hockey fans and over the past few years. I’ve seen it grow. It went from seeming to be not all that popular to all of sudden I started to see the kids out on the street with hockey nets, playing hockey all of the time because we were getting better and now that we won the championship hopefully we can develop another generation of hockey fans and the kids as hockey players. I mean the Bruins won the championship in 1970 and 1972 and the 1980 U.S. Olympic team about half of them were from the Boston area and I think that was the result of those Bruins championships, so hopefully with us winning the Stanley Cup this year it inspires a whole other generation of kids to play hockey. We might see the benefits in the Olympic games ten years from now or fifteen years from now.”