User ID
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Betting Tools

Thomas goes through 1st Panthers workout

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) - Tim Thomas took a few hunting trips during his sabbatical from hockey, including one journey to Florida where he ended up snagging an alligator.

He's back in Florida, and gators aren't exactly on his mind this time.

Declaring himself ``reborn'' after more than a year off, Thomas was back on NHL ice Tuesday, working out with the Florida Panthers for the first time since agreeing to a tryout deal with the club. The goaltender with two Vezina Trophies and a Stanley Cup on his resume will accompany the Panthers starting Wednesday for their three-game, four-day road trip to Dallas, San Antonio and Tampa, Fla.

``After 14 years of pro hockey, I got tired and I needed a break,'' Thomas said. ``Now I'm energized and I'm looking forward to it.''

Thomas came to Florida to compete for a starting job and will only need to beat Jacob Markstrom to win that role. Markstrom has been the Panthers' goalie of the future for some time and arrived in this camp expecting to finally be the No. 1 guy - especially with veteran Scott Clemmensen recovering from knee surgery that may keep him off the ice until next month.

Markstrom didn't seem bothered in any way by Thomas' arrival.

``It's the best league in the world,'' Markstrom said. ``It's not supposed to be easy. It's going to be a fun experience and I'm really excited.''

For his part, Thomas said he is willing to help Markstrom however he can.

``I never competed against the other goalie on my team,'' Thomas said. ``That's the way that people want to frame it, that it's a competition between goalies, but that's not the way I look at it. I'm competing against myself. And if I play the best that I can, I'm going to get the results that I want and I'm going to get the playing time that I want.''

Thomas agreed to the deal on Monday and all indications are that the tryout is a mere precursor to an actual contract for the 39-year-old goalie who was outstanding with the Boston Bruins for parts of eight seasons, posting a 2.45 goals-against average in 362 starts.

He decided to take last season off to focus on family, faith and friends, as he put it, and said Tuesday that he largely steered his mind away from hockey. Thomas didn't even watch games during the season - until the playoffs, when the lure of watching teams compete for the Stanley Cup was something he could not ignore.

``When it came playoff time I started to watch some hockey and started to get the competitive juices flowing and I saw my former team, the Boston Bruins, have the success they had,'' Thomas said. ``I was so proud of those guys and what they did.''

The Bruins went to the Stanley Cup finals, losing in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks. It's maybe a little ironic that Thomas wound up in Florida; his former team was two wins shy of another Cup without him, and the team that beat Boston was partially built by Dale Tallon, who now is the Panthers' general manager.

Tallon and Thomas talked plenty over the course of the last week to get the tryout deal worked out, and Panthers coach Kevin Dineen was impressed with what he saw from the goalie in his first practice.

``As advertised,'' Dineen said. ``He came in and gave that high-compete level. He works on every shot and everything that I heard about him we saw in practice today, so it was a good day.''

Dineen said he's willing to give Thomas a few days to get acclimated before putting him into game action.

Thomas has become a bit of a polarizing figure for some of his off-ice decisions, such as taking the year off when he was still under contract and skipping the Bruins' trip to the White House after the 2011 title because of political beliefs.

He addressed it all and more Tuesday - ``I've got better things to think about,'' he said - and insisted that his focus now is more on what's ahead than what's already happened.

``I'm here to play hockey,'' Thomas said.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Williams: In the Crease - Week 15
News: Grand Salami - January
Penguins top Canadiens on road
Jets double up Coyotes, 6-3
Caps are winning more, whining less
Ducks reassign F Noesen, D Theodore
Wild lose D Brodin to broken finger
Rangers' Kreider fined for helmet
Wings' streak running on fumes
Why Buy Picks From
NHL Pro Hockey Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NHL Hot Streaks
5-0 +610 Last 3 Days, +2,066 TY
9-1 +910 L10, 23-8 +1,793 Run
11-5 L16 Totals, +1,959 TY
5 Wins in a Row, 14-3 Streak
8-3, +517 L11 Guaranteed Plays
9-4 +761 L13 Picks, 4-0 Totals
5-1, +399 L6 NHL Selections
NHL Pro Hockey Expert Sports Picks
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 2066
Stephen Nover + 1959
Bill Marzano + 1147
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Stephen Nover + 1381
Joe Williams + 541
Gary Bart + 541
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 987
Stephen Nover + 332
ASA + 274
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 1571
Scott Rickenbach + 1249
Stephen Nover + 1240
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 906
Stephen Nover + 246
Don Anthony + 150
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 953
Gary Bart + 810
Stephen Nover + 90
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership