CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Tim Thomas took a few hunting trips during his sabbatical from hockey, including one journey to Florida where he ended up snagging an alligator.
He’s back in Florida, and gators aren’t exactly on his mind this time.
Declaring himself “reborn” after more than a year off, Thomas was back on NHL ice Tuesday, working out with the Florida Panthers for the first time since agreeing to a tryout deal with the club. The goaltender with two Vezina Trophies and a Stanley Cup on his resume will accompany the Panthers today for their three-game, four-day road trip to Dallas, San Antonio and Tampa, Fla.
“After 14 years of pro hockey, I got tired and I needed a break,” Thomas said. “Now I’m energized and I’m looking forward to it.”
Thomas came to Florida to compete for a starting job and will only need to beat Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom has been the Panthers’ goalie of the future for some time and arrived in this camp expecting to be the No. 1 guy – especially with veteran Scott Clemmensen recovering from knee surgery that may keep him out until October.
Markstrom didn’t seem bothered in any way by Thomas’ arrival.
“It’s the best league in the world,” Markstrom said. “It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s going to be a fun experience and I’m really excited.”
For his part, Thomas said he is willing to help Markstrom however he can.
“I’m here to play hockey,” Thomas said.