One of the best moments of the post-Game 7 handshake line after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup last week was the sight of Tim Thomas not only shaking hands with his Vancouver counterpart Roberto Luongo but trying hard to quickly let him know how much he admires and respects his play.
The Bruins goaltender was famously a hot topic throughout the series about his ability to play outside of the blue paint and Luongo, of course, made his seemingly snooty remark (only he knows if it was meant how it was interpreted) about being able to make the save on the Game 5 shot that beat Thomas and the Bruins.
Both netminders are in Las Vegas for tonight’s NHL Awards show, where they’re both finalists for the Vezina Trophy. Scott Burnside of ESPN.com caught up with both goaltenders, and Thomas explained that any war of the words ended once the series ended.
Thomas told Burnside:
“I remember one of the things I told him going through the line is I said ‘for the record, I think you’re a great goalie and you had a great season.’ Whether [Luongo’s comments] were taken out of context or whether it was just part of a mental game that was trying to be played, it doesn’t really matter. It’s something that happened.
“We compete as hard as we can on the ice, and when we’re in the middle of that game or the middle of that series, sometimes emotions get the better of you. When it’s all said and done, it’s over. I respect everyone that I play against and every team that I play against.”
Luongo also sounded like he considered the hatchet buried. He told reporters:
“I think everything’s cool. We had a few words after the series was over, and you know, I’ve always had a lot of respect for him and I’ve always said that from the start. Wish him all the best [Wednesday] and hope he enjoys the Vezina because he’s probably going to win it.”
Hopefully, the NHL schedule will allow for a minimum of two rematches between Thomas and Luongo next season. Then they can go at it again after a summer of peace and forgiveness.