BOSTON — Numerous teams over the years failed to foresee the type of all-world goaltender Tim Thomas would be by the time he reached his early 30s.
So Thomas can be forgiven if his stint in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s training camp back in 1999 doesn’t stick out for anymore than other times he didn’t get a shot from a team.
On the day before Thomas and the Bruins are set to meet the Lightning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, here’s what Thomas had to say about his Central Florida experience:
“Well, we stayed at a hotel, and they had a pool. There was a lot of little lizards around,” said Thomas, eliciting laughter as only the deadpan goaltender can.
“But, no, it was just kind of odd to attend training camp. You’re always attending training camp at the end of summer, so it’s still pretty good weather. When you attend a training camp normally, it’s turning to fall. One of the things I remember from that Tampa Bay training camp is it was so different. It was really hot. All the training camp conditions were hot and humid.
“I remember I believe it was Vinny Lecavalier’s first camp and I remember that fight he got into with [Alek] Stojanov. Stojanov was a tough guy. He didn’t want to fight Vinny, but Vinny kept coming after him. We discussed what a terrible situation he was in, Stojanov.
“I mean, I remember stuff here and there, you know. Daren Puppa was the goalie for the Lightning at the time. Jay Feaster, it was his first year there. I remember a quick conversation I had on the plane with him, stuff like that. Nothing that really sticks out.”
Thomas didn’t make the Lightning and spent that season with the IHL affiliate Detroit Vipers. Yet another organization that has to be kicking itself now that Thomas is weeks away from receiving his second Vezina Trophy in three years.