Boston.com – Retired NHL goaltender Tim Thomas broke a years-long public silence Wednesday after being named as part of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2019.
The mercurial Thomas, who led the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011 and made headlines for refusing to visit then-President Barack Obama at the White House, has avoided the spotlight since walking away from hockey in 2014……“Everybody probably knows nowadays I don’t actually have all that much to say, at least publicly,” Thomas said on a conference call with reporters.
For all the legends, urban myths, and just plain strange anecdotes ingrained in Boston sports lore, the saga of Tim Thomas somehow goes largely unnoticed, at least on a day-to-day basis. Sure, if you were to sit around with your buddies and begin regaling each other with tales of Bruins fandom, particularly in the years surrounding the 2011 Cup win, Thomas and his eccentricities would come up. But otherwise, the two-time Vezina winner and his peculiar behavior is just a footnote in a big book that details pitchers who talked to the ball and offensive linemen who decided they were aerodynamic enough to stage dive.
Make no mistake about it, this isn’t just a post-playing career story. Thomas was always a bit of an odd duck. This of course is understandable as he is from Vermont and people from Vermont are a bit out there. I guess when your identity is half-Canadian, half-New Hampshirian and your atmosphere tests for pot like the air in Hong Kong tests for smog, you’re going to come out a little wacky. There’s also an accepted hotbed of communism in Vermont, which of course Thomas was a huge fan of as well. There he was, a stand out player in a bro-y, popular professional sport and his personal life resume read like someone who may try and overthrow the government.
Then Tim Thomas left hockey in 2014 and that was that. He’s 45 now and is said to live in basically a bunker in Colorado, following a survivalist’s lifestyle. While it would be easy to dismiss that as just as another example of how the B’s old netminder is just a bit of a space case, he actually gave some insight into why he lives the way he does when discussing why he doesn’t make appearances in Boston:
“With the state of my nervous system since I retired, I wouldn’t be able to hardly handle the energy of the crowd in Boston,” Thomas said. “So it isn’t as simple as it may seem. Having said that, you never know what the future may hold. I’m just taking life as it goes.”
Kind of makes you feel like a a bit of a traitor no? All this time we’ve been poking fun at “Timmy” for being some anti-government loon, while all along he just didn’t care for the attention to begin with. It would actually seem like he might have a touch of social anxiety, and as someone who is prone to ingesting a tiny quantity of special brownie in order to function in a large crowd, I can dig that. It gets overwhelming for some people.
But Thomas touched on one other reason for his departure from the hockey world. Something we kind of forget about. However, it is a reason we’ve seen more and more frequently in the NFL as the risk-reward for playing has been put under the microscope: the love and passion for the game just isn’t there and is outweighed by that for other things.
“I have other interests. I have a totally other focus. I live in a totally different world than the hockey world that I lived in before. I live a long ways away from Boston, and it’s not that fun for me to travel anymore…”
The guy kind of…..just doesn’t give a shit about hockey anymore. And he kind of has that right, right? He gave hockey his entire life up until he was 40. He gave Boston some of his best years as well as a cup. What more can we ask for? We definitely don’t deserve anything.
So cheers to you, Tim. We appreciate the explanation. Congrats on the induction and enjoy whatever the hell it is that you do.