Florida Panthers netminder Tim Thomas is not shy about his desire to play for Team USA at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia this coming February. The native of Flint, Michigan has represented his country at four World Championships, and was a member of the American Olympic team that won Silver at Vancouver 2010. His track record with USA hockey helps his cause, however, his spot amongst America’s top goaltenders was greatly put to the test last season when he decided to take the year off at the age of thirty-eight. It also doesn’t help Thomas’ case that the US of A has a wealth of elite netminders to choose from and only three roster spots to fill.
In anticipation of a highly touted 2011 Stanley Cup finals rematch between Thomas and 2010 Canadian gold medalist Roberto Luongo, the American expressed a definite interest in becoming a member of the American national team at Sochi. In regards to returning to the NHL this season, and vying for a spot on the American Olympic roster, Thomas told the Sun Sentinel:
“Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, it’s one of the major factors. I only got to play [part of one period] against Finland. But the whole experience was awesome. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing or not in the Olympics you want to be a part of it, and I’d love to be a part of it again.”
As a member of the 2011-12 Boston Bruins (Thomas’s last full NHL campaign) the goaltender’s political views became a news story when he declined to visit the White House to meet with President Barack Obama, something every Stanley Cup championship team does the season after winning.
Tim Thomas posted a Facebook statement explaining his decision not to join his teammates in Washington for the ceremony:
“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the people…”
There doesn’t seem to be major public fallout from Thomas’ political views, however, perhaps naming him to the American Olympic team will ruffle some feathers. After all, people take their politics very seriously.
While some laugh off the notion that Tim Thomas deserves a spot in America’s top three ahead of goaltenders such as Jonathan Quick, Ryan Miller, Jimmy Howard, Craig Anderson, Ben Bishop, and Cory Schneider, the truth is, you never know. He is a Stanley Cup champion, two-time Vezina winner, and proven big game player.
Watching Tim Thomas beat Van in a SO makes one think that maybe his goal of being part of Team USA in Sochi isn't that far fetched.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) November 20, 2013