Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed earlier reports that Tim Thomas is contemplating sitting out the 2012-13 season, saying the goalie expressed his potential desire to skip next season when talking to the GM in early May.
Chiarelli explained that if such a scenario unfolds, the Bruins would be forced to suspend Thomas, which would still mean the team is saddled with the goalie's $5 million salary cap number. At the end of the season, the Bruins would then have the option of either extending the contract another year, or terminating the deal.
"Tim came to me toward the beginning of May through his agent and said that he is seriously considering taking the year off. The reasons why, I'm not exactly sure. He did give reasons regarding his family, which I obviously respect, to spend more time with his family. As of right now I'm operating under the premise that there is a strong possibility that he will be taking the year off and we have to go about our business without Tim Thomas for the year. Now, what I can tell you about some of the logistics and the details surrounding what will happen at the start of the year, I would have to suspend him and his cap number would still be on the cap. We would have relief through [Marc] Savard being on the cap [a $4.0177 million hit] so it would almost be a wash that way, but he would still be on the cap. And that's the way it would proceed with the year. I know there have been some players who have long stretches in their careers, including some long playoff years, when they come to the end of their deal … These things come up and these things happen. You have to deal with it and we will."
Chiarelli said he would be exploring the possibility of a trade or waivers involving Thomas after July 1, which is when the goalie's no-movement clause expires.
"That would be something we'd look at," Chiarelli said. "We do have that flexibility."
Thomas has given not indication when his decision will be made, according to Chiarelli, although the goalie told the GM he is hoping to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"I almost have to operate under the assumption that he isn't coming back," Chiarelli said. "I've had some discussions with Tim and he told me he wants to play in the Olympics the following year. I'll have some more discussions with him later on, but we have two very capable goalies in Tuukka [Rask] and [Anton] Khudobin." Chiarelli also mentioned the optimism the organization has around newly-acquired Niklas Svedberg and Adam Morrison in terms of goalie depth.
Chiarelli said there was no indication that Thomas was using the approach in attempting to negotiate a contract extension.
"I just think that all the stuff that's gone on the last couple of years, with the playing, the appearances, the fame that goes with winning, I think he's a little worn down," the GM said. "I think it's coincidental with the (no-movement) deadline because he says he still wants to play in the Olympics."
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