LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Tim Thomas isn’t ready to rank where his incredible season stands in NHL history.
The affable Boston netminder won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s outstanding goaltender at the NHL awards Wednesday, capping a season in which he led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship.
“I haven’t had that much time to think about something like that,” said Thomas. “If I do get the time this summer, I’m going to try as hard as I can not to think about something like that.
“I’m still playing and the way I feel I still got many good years ahead of me. The goal is always to get better. I’d like to see what I could do to raise the bar even higher. To push myself to new limits.”
Thomas set an NHL record for save percentage when he finished at .938, surpassing Dominik Hasek’s .937 set in the 1998-89 season. He also had a league-low 2.00 goals-against average and nine shutouts.
Those imposing figures lifted him over fellow Vezina finalists Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne in voting by the league’s 40 general managers.
The 37-year-old overcame a hip injury that left his starting job with Boston in doubt before last season, but years of toiling in Europe and minor-league hockey helped him persevere.
“It’s a story of putting in the work and it will pay off in the end,” said Thomas.
Thomas also took home the award in 2009, but said both trophies were special for different reasons.
“The first time was pretty special because of how far I had come. It looked unattainable,” said Thomas, who earlier in the week allowed his trademark beard to be shaved (although he kept a short moustache.)
“This one is just as special, but special in a different way after last year and everything that happened this year.”
A year that saw Thomas go from three-a-day workouts to recover from off-season hip surgery to bringing home the Stanley Cup and all the hardware he could carry also earned him some Hall of Fame praise.
“Congratulating Tim Thomas welcome to the club,” tweeted Bernie Parent, a Hall of Fame goalie with the Philadelphia Flyers. Parent and Thomas are now the only two players in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe and Vezina trophies in the same season.
Thomas smiled when he learned of Parent’s tweet.
“That’s the stuff I really enjoy hearing more than anything else,” he said. “It’s amazing that he did it two years in a row. I’m going to try and do something similar.”