Tim Thomas came to the Dallas Stars in a late season trade with the Florida Panthers. The Stars were looking to improve their backup goaltending situation. Dan Ellis had been shaky at best behind starter Kari Lehtonen. Ellis was 5-6 and had a goals against average well over three.
Both Head Coach Lindy Ruff and GM Jim Nill thought that in order to remain in the playoffs and ultimately successful they needed to rest Kari and Ellis wasn’t giving them that chance. Thomas became available when Vancouver traded Roberto Luongo to Florida and the Stars jumped at the opportunity to add the veteran netminder. It was a brilliant move for the Stars at the time but unfortunately it never worked out.
Thomas was two years removed from being the MVP of the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup winning team. He brought much needed experience and confidence to the Stars defensive core.
He got his first action in only his second game on the roster. Kari had to leave that game against Minnesota after being run in to in his crease and hitting his head on the crossbar. Thomas came in and ended up getting the win in what was a huge emotional night for the Stars.
Before the game the Stars retired Mike Modano‘s jersey in front of a sell out crowd and after watching their franchise goalie leave with a concussion the Stars came from behind to win. It was an incredible night and one of the defining moments not only of the season but of the franchise.
For Thomas that’s as good as it was going to get.
Pushed in to the starting job because of Kari’s injury Thomas won his first start against the Blues and that was it. He finished with a 2-4 record and rookie Christopher Nilstorp ended up getting a start before Kari came back to the lineup.
It was disappointing to say the least.
His willingness to play the puck in to the corners after making a save confused his defensemen. Kari is more likely to cover the puck and take the faceoff after making a save. Thomas playing the puck would surprise his dmen and caused some awkward transitions out of the zone that ended up in scoring chances for the Stars opponents. The Stars defense last season was about speed and transition so if they didn’t get the puck out quickly they were in trouble.
Positionaly he was very sound but at 40 years old the reflexes weren’t quite there.
The very reason they brought it him in was to be a security blanket for Kari and three games into the experiment it was a failure. No one expected that kind of performance from him and it was very surprising to see him play so poorly.
The Stars will not be resigning him. With Nilstorp leading the AHL Texas Stars to the Calder Cup finals and top ten pick Jack Campbell both knocking on the door from Austin it’s time for the Stars to let one of them become Kari’s backup and possible successor.
Thomas has had a great career with two Vezina trophies, a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe but this looks to be the end for him.