As I was laying down trying to fall asleep two nights ago I was thinking about the situation brought about the Florida Panthers trading for Roberto Luongo and where that left Tim Thomas. Obviously we all know the outcome by now and knew that it was the likely outcome seeing as they didn’t have the best of histories.
But that got me thinking about Thomas’ time in Florida – and overall as a NHL player. When the Panthers first signed Thomas I was extremely curious – on both parties behalf – as to why this came about.
The Panthers are a young team, on the upswing, with a young goalie thought to be the future of the organization. Where Jacob Markstrom was at in his progression, now seemed the perfect time for him to spend his first full season in the NHL, but with Thomas and Scott Clemmensen that wasn’t going to happen.
Thomas is a Stanley Cup winning goaltender (at the expense of Luongo), hoping to re-establish his career after taking a year off. The fact he signed with the Panthers was thought to be due to the lack of interest league-wise (which could still be the fact).
Almost as soon as I thought about Thomas and him in Florida I thought about the movie ‘The Dark Knight’ (stay with me). At the end of the movie, Gary Oldman who played Commissioner Gordon told his son as Batman ran away that he was the hero that Gotham ‘deserved but not the one that they need’ referring him as the ‘Dark Knight’ to Harvey Dent’s ‘White Knight’.
Though I have never been a true fan of Thomas, I still respect any and all who play the game and play the game the way he did – giving it everything he has, for the way that the Panthers were currently constructed he was the goalie that they deserved.
He gave it all every night, even if some of the players around him didn’t. It’s hard sometimes to get up for games when you’re constantly losing, but Thomas brought his game between the pipes each and every night. No matter the result, no matter the outcome.
But Thomas is 39-years old, and while he still makes his amazing get you out of your seat saves – he isn’t the future of this organization, and that’s not what the Panthers need.
They need a face of the franchise. They need a player that will bring in other big name players, a player who has that proven pedigree as an elite goaltender and can stay at that level for the future as the team transitions from rebuilder to contender.
That man is Luongo. At 33-and still one of the better goaltenders in the league he can be the face of Panthers for the future – and the present.
In my brief time here with The Rat Trick, I became a fan of Thomas – not with his style of play – but with how he plays the game (You’re my best friend for life if you can tell the difference). His over-aggressiveness is a byproduct of how hard he plays the game, how much passion he puts into every play.
Just like Batman, Thomas is the hero that the Panthers deserve but not the one they need. That’s how I will remember the 40-game Thomas era, and let’s hope that Luongo avoids the same fall from grace that Dent was in the movie.
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