In the classic comedy movie, Monty Python's Life of Brian there was a terrific scene where the surly members of the 'Judean People's Front' (not to be confused with the utterly useless People's Front of Judea) lament on all the horrors they've had to endure while under Roman rule.
Law and order, medical advancements, clean water, paved roads and several other advantages were all noted before the line was uttered 'but beside's all that what have the Romans really done for us?'
You may ask; before you go off on a tangent, shouldn't you establish a coherent chain of thought to stray from first?
Maybe, but bear with me...I'm setting up a witty metaphor here and I haven't quoted anything from Monty Python in days (to my wife's obvious but short-lived joy)
Like the JPF (again, not that vile group of wankers who populate the PFJ) many a Bruins fan has looked at Tim Thomas like he has pictures of Peter Chiarelli spooning Harry Sinden to have earned the contract he is playing for.
I swear before all that is holy that I will never trouble you with that mental image again...unless of course I do. I just needed the shock value to make a point.
Anyway, 'Roman' Tim Thomas (not to be confused with 'roaming' John Grahame') is now trapped under the dark cloud of 'what have you done for us?'
Apparently many Bruins fans have the memory retention of an Etch-a-sketch in a paint shaker, so let's review:
The year is 2005, the heir apparent behind the pipes is Andrew Raycroft, the previous seasons stats are impressive and things look good for the mighty B's in net. All is right in the world and fans are thrilled to have some stability minding the twine.
Unfortunately Raycroft has one slight issue to contend with; downsized goalie pads. His numbers plummet from a .926 sv% to .879, goals against are down from 2.05 to 3.71 (!!), wins shrink from 29 to 8. All is far from well and the truth comes out; unless his goalie pads are made of Seally posturepedic mattresses Andy is as effective a drain stopper made from a wiffle ball.
Tim Thomas comes in as a guy with more travel mileage than the Voyager probe, playing for peanuts and salvages precious hope for fans, posting a .917 sv%, 2.77 GAA, and 12 wins.
The year is 2006, the new young hope for goal is the slinky-spined Hannu Toivonen. The man appears to be made of silly putty, performing nad-crunching splits at will and having all witnesses experience visions of Dominic Hasek. Things are looking up yet again. Youth, talent and a difficult to spell name will carry the day. It's all good folks, you'll see.
Not. So. Much.
Hannu may have the elasticity of Plastic Man but he an eye for the puck that requires a seeing-eye dog. Acrobatics cannot overcome fear and bad positioning.
Tim Thomas comes in and posts a .905 sv%, 3.13 GAA, and chalks up 30 wins, carrying the load for a second time in as many years.
The year is 2007, a guaranteed number one puck-stopper is recruited in Manny Fernandez. He play an entire four games before (honest) stepping on a puck, sliding his legs out and knocking him out for the year with a groin injury. Fans are justifiably concerned since pucks are a somewhat essential part of hockey and goaltenders have a reputation for knowing what to do with them.
Tim Thomas, .921 sv%, 2.44 GAA, 28 wins.
The year is 2008. After a year of healing and going through intense therapy to overcome his fear of renegade pucks Manny Fernandez returns, prickly personality and brittle spine intact. Manny starts out shaky, plays decently as the season progresses, then stinks up the joint by the end of the season. Still he posts a .910 sv%, 2.59 GAA and 16 wins.
Tim Thomas, .933 sv%, 2.10 GAA, 36 wins.
If one looks close enough, they might notice a pattern here. The Bruins do notice and sign Tim to a $5 mil per year contract. Why? Besides the fact he won the Vezina Trophy?
The year is 2009. Two years after fleecing Toronto for Tuukka Rask (in exchange for Andrew Raysoft), a goalie brought along low and slow with the Providence Bruins, Tuukka comes in and shows a ton of promise in his first full NHL season. His skills are impressive, his age is encouraging, his poise is remarkable. He has a tremendous debut season in the NHL, posting .931 sv%, 1.97 GAA and 22 wins. Many Bruins fans froth at the mouth for this 22 year old wunderkind. Tim Thomas is deemed expendable after having a disappointing but hardly disastrous record of .915 sv%, 2.56 GAA and 19 wins. He is ranked 18th out of 47 goalies in the NHL.
Now we head toward the 2010 season, the Bruins armed with a promising young goalie that many feel is ready to shoulder the load as a bona fide number one, after one whole, entire season, making Tim 'Tank' Thomas obsolete.
Good thing history never, ever, in a zillion years repeats itself, right?