Around the NHL, the nagging question about Tim Thomas remains the same: What is the goalie’s end game?
Bill Zito, Thomas’s agent, is insistent with his answer. By declaring his intentions to take next season off, Thomas is not forcing his way into a trade nor is he interested in a contract extension.
“It didn’t have anything to do with a contract or trade,’’ Zito, Thomas’s agent of 15 years, said Monday. “It did not.’’
Last month, when he disclosed Thomas’s plan to Peter Chiarelli, Zito was assertive enough about this point to convince the Bruins general manager. During a conference call Friday, Chiarelli said he believed Thomas’s reasons - fatigue and the desire to spend more time with his family - as the primary factors behind the 2012-13 sabbatical.
In exit meetings, Chiarelli said numerous players told him the last two seasons felt like one long year. Chiarelli did not specifically cite Thomas as one of those players. Including the playoffs, Thomas appeared in 148 games over the last two seasons.
Zito declined to discuss any other specifics of Thomas’s decision to take next year off. On Sunday, via his Facebook page, Thomas confirmed he will not play in 2012-13. Thomas has one season remaining on his four-year, $20 million contract. Thomas’s no-movement clause expires July 1.
One of the theories floating around the league is that Thomas does not want to play for the Bruins next season. If he sits out, the Bruins would be responsible for his $5 million cap hit in 2012-13. They would be eager to rid themselves of Thomas’s cap number.
“ ‘I’ll force a trade to the team I want,’ ’’ CBC commentator Glenn Healy, speaking to what he believes is Thomas’s intention, said during the network’s broadcast Sunday. “This is not a guy who’s going to take a year off, then, when he’s almost 40, be able to play again. It’s ridiculous.’’
Zito’s declarative statement, however, reinforces Thomas’s plan to sit out next year. With Thomas standing firm to his commitment, it’s unlikely the Bruins could find a taker, via trade or waivers, for the remaining year of his contract. A team would not assume Thomas’s cap hit without assurance of the two-time Vezina Trophy winner changing his mind. The Bruins might also have to give up an asset or take a bad contract in a trade.
Off the ice, Thomas remains a spokesman for Arbella Insurance.
“We respect Tim’s decision to spend more time with his family,’’ read a statement released by the company. “We know how important that is to him, and we believe it’s a testament to the kind of person he is. We obviously need to speak with Tim and his agent to understand how Tim’s decision will affect our partnership moving forward. Regardless, we commend Tim for another outstanding season.’’Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.