The question of whether or not Tim Thomas would be a good fit with the Panthers sparks the type of argument that hockey fans live for. The multifaceted debate hits on topics such as politics, locker room presence, age, and maneuvering the media. Oh yeah it also touches on hockey somewhere in there.
A lot of the questions surrounding Tim Thomas are not easily answered. For example are Thomas’ outspoken political beliefs something that will be a distraction to a team? Who really knows? It did not appear to distract the Bruins but when your winning Vezina Trophies and leading your team to a Stanley Cup, I’m pretty sure you can say whatever you damn well please.
Is his difficult relationship with the media his fault or was his only mistake making himself such an easy target? What does his taking last year off say about his commitment to hockey? Do any of these questions matter to his teammates? And likewise do they matter at all once the puck drops?
The answer to those last two questions is probably no. The only things teammates have to agree on is winning. You do not have to be best friends with someone off the ice so long as when the game starts you share the same objective, beating the opposing team. Does getting along make things easier in the long run? Yes, but it is not paramount to winning. And really, once the games start, all Thomas has to do is stop the puck. Whether he believes this, or he is outspoken about that or he has snubbed x teammate by doing y, it is all inconsequential if he is a competent puck stopper. Furthermore most of the news about Thomas being selfish and a bad teammate is complete speculation. While his teammates aren’t exactly lining up to defend him, they also are not publicly bashing him.
All this may make it seem like I am in support of the Panthers giving Tim Thomas a look (I’m not) but while I have no problems with Thomas as an individual, I just do not think he would be a good fit for the Panthers. I do not know anything about Tim Thomas other than what I have read. I cannot make judgments about his character, I cannot condemn him for being selfish or for being a bad teammate. I will not use any of those accusations as reasons why I do not want the Panthers sign Thomas.
The reason I would rather the Panthers avoid Thomas is, I do not think bringing the Tim Thomas media circus to South Florida would be a good thing for this young Panther team, and make no mistake about it, there will be a media circus that follows Thomas wherever he ends up, and while it may not be a Tebow sized circus it will still be a circus. The fact that these questions and these arguments break out when talking about Thomas is enough to convince me the Panthers should stay away. I do not know if Thomas himself would be a distraction if he was added to the Panthers but I do know that the media maelstrom his signing would set off would be.
Sometimes taking on a controversial player is a good thing. The Lakers signed the highly controversial Metta World Peace in 2009 because they, rightfully, thought he would be the missing piece on a title contending team. They were willing to endure some of the craziness that would come with the signing because the title(s) would be worth it. What would the Panthers get out of bringing in Thomas? Most likely they would get maybe one or two years of strong goaltending for a young rebuilding team that probably will not be competing for a Stanley Cup anytime soon. In addition to that they would be stunting the confidence and growth of their goaltender of the future, Jacob Markstrom, while subjecting their inexperienced players to a media scrutiny they may well not be prepared to deal with. Is the Thomas headache worth it? I say no but my opinion has already been heard, I want to hear what you think. Share your thoughts in the poll below or sound if in the comments section: