Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed on Friday that two-time Vezina Trophy winning goalie Tim Thomas surprised the team last month to advise them of the possibility of sitting out next season due to family reasons.
ESPN.com first reported Thursday that the enigmatic goalie might sit out next season, which would be a bold move given that he is 38 and in the last year of a contract.
Chiarelli said that while he was "more than a little disappointed," he respected the decision and was operating on the premise that the veteran won't be available to the team. In that case, the GM said, he'd be satisfied having a tandem featuring current Bruins netminders Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin.
Thomas, whose agent is Bill Zito, is scheduled to count $5 million US against the salary cap in the last season of his current deal.
As far as formalities, the Bruins could suspend Thomas for not reporting. Chiarelli said the team would then have the choice to "toll" the deal: either void it or have the remaining year carry over.
Thomas has a no-movement clause that expires on July 1, but Chiarelli said he didn't think it was a ploy to force a trade.
"I don't think there's anything mischievous from his point behind this," said Chiarelli.
Thomas made waves midway through the season when he did not accompany his teammates to the White House for a ceremony honouring their 2011 Stanley Cup win. He then refused to talk to reporters about the decision — which he announced on his personal Facebook page — not to attend on different occasions.
While not the sole reason the Bruins lost in the first round in seven games to Washington in April, last year's Conn Smythe winner was outperformed by Capitals rookie Braden Holtby.
Chiarelli said Thomas has admitted to feeling a bit worn down, having played 148 regular season and playoff games the past two years. But the Flint, Mich., native also expressed the desire to vie for a spot on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team.
Chiarelli said he expects to speak to Thomas and Zito soon.
Rask, 25, actually supplanted Thomas as No. 1 netminder in 2009-10. The Finnish netminder is a restricted free agent, another variable for the Bruins to consider.
The overriding unknown is whether the league and the players' association will be able to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement to preserve a full 2012-13 slate of games.
Meanwhile, the Bruins announced deals for Daniel Paille and Chris Bourque.
Paille, 28, was locked up through the 2014-15 season. He will earn $1.3 million US per season.
The Welland, Ont., native has scored 60 goals and 64 assists in 381 career NHL games with Buffalo and Boston, with 109 penalty minutes. The left wing scored three goals and three assists in 25 games during Boston's Stanley Cup run last year.
Chiarelli praised Paille's speed and penalty killing abilities. He was acquired in October 2009 from the Sabres for two draft picks.
Bourque was acquired last week from Washington for former first round pick Zach Hamill. Bourque, the son of Bruins legend Ray Bourque, has appeared in 33 NHL games.
Last season, he had 27 goals and 66 assists in 73 regular-season games with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.
Bourque's deal is for two years, with the second year a one-way.
The Bruins also said unrestricted free agent defenceman Joe Corvo won't be offered a new deal.