Tim Thomas is joining the Panthers on a professional tryout agreement.
One of the Bruins' new divisional 'rivalries' may have just gotten a little more interesting.
Tim Thomas -- last seen some 17 months ago with the Bruins, the team he led to a Stanley Cup in 2011 -- signed a professional tryout agreement (PTO) with the Panthers on Monday. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner will report for duty Tuesday.
Thomas, 39, hasn't played since declaring in May 2012 that he would not honor the final year of his contract and take a year off. The goalie announced on Facebook
that he wanted to commit to "friends, family and faith," bringing an end to a bizarre year that saw him skip the team's visit to the White House and post several politically and socially conservative messages on Facebook
The Bruins were less than pleased
when Thomas walked away, but it turned out OK. They committed to Tuukka Rask full-time a year earlier than expected and he led them back to the Stanley Cup Final and was rewarded with a franchise goalie contract of eight years and $56 million.
It was thought that Thomas would return for the 2013-14 season to try to earn his way onto another Olympic team after being the backup to Ryan Miller in 2010. That seems unlikely, however, considering the Americans' depth in net (Jonathan Quick, Cory Schneider, Jimmy Howard, Miller) and the politics of selecting a player who openly snubbed the president.
The Panthers were one of the few teams desperate enough for goaltending help to finally give Thomas a call. Florida was the worst team in the league last season and allowed an NHL-high 171 goals in 48 games (3.56 a night). Incumbent Jacob Markstrom was the favorite for the No. 1 spot despite a 3.22 GAA and .901 save percentage last season.
''(Thomas) really wants to play and he really wants to lead and he really wants to be the starter and he wants to win and he wants to win now,'' Florida general manager Dale Tallon told reporters Monday. ''I was very impressed with him. His attitude is terrific. I liked everything that he had to say and I liked his approach. We try to strive to get better every day and I think a good Tim Thomas makes us a better team.''
If he is given a contract, Thomas would face the Bruins for the first time in Sunrise on Oct. 17 and would return to TD Garden on Nov. 7.