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Bruins assuming Thomas won’t return next season

Tim Thomas spoke to the media in the Bruins’ locker room as the team packed up after the season.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Tim Thomas spoke to the media in the Bruins’ locker room as the team packed up after the season.

“As of right now, I’m operating under the premise that it is a strong possibility of him taking the year off,” Chiarelli said during a conference call. “We’d have to go about our business without Tim Thomas for the year.”

If Thomas follows through, the Bruins will most likely suspend the goalie for 2012-13. However, the team must carry Thomas’s $5 million annual cap hit. The team would most likely have to place Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve to negate some of Thomas’s hit. Savard carries an annual hit just north of $4 million.

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“I’m disappointed,” said Chiarelli, who acknowledged being surprised by Thomas’s declaration. “These things happen. You’ve got to roll with them. You’ve got to deal with them. When someone talks about their family, you have to respect that. You’ve got to deal with it. We’re not too disabled on the cap side. But sure, that’s the strength of our team.”

Thomas said he hopes to play in the 2014 Olympics. The NHL has not committed to sending its players to the Winter Games.

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