Tim Thomas won't be participating in the NHL this season, but the 38-year-old goaltender wants to return for the following season.
This is according to Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli after he talked with Thomas. Chiarelli was quoted in this report by NHL.com.
Given Thomas' age, the Bruins are not totally unprepared for life without Thomas.
The report also states that 25-year-old Tuukka Rask will take over the starting role in the net. He has been groomed for this job and he's started 92 games in his career. He will be backed up by rookie Anton Khudobin.
Thomas' hiatus creates a weird cap situation for the Bruins. They will not have to pay Thomas this year, but his $5 million salary will count against the cap. Chiarelli said that the team would suspend Thomas for the season:
"'We'll end up suspending him,' Chiarelli said. 'He will be on our cap unless I trade him.'"
The only way they could avoid Thomas' salary figuring into the cap is by trading him, but that is highly unlikely, since he is not going to play. This might be a possibility if a team needed to get to the salary floor, but as Chiarelli notes, in an article by ESPN's Joe McDonald, with the floor at $44 million for this season, that is not likely to happen.
The other part about this story is that while Thomas has said he would like to return, there is no indication that his plans are to return to the Bruins. He might not have a choice about the matter.
McDonald notes that the Bruins could toll Thomas' contract, which would give the Bruins the option of retaining Thomas' services for next season at the same $5 million salary.
This is a unique situation, and I can't imagine that privately the Bruins are ecstatic about Thomas' decision. I would be surprised if he ever played another game for Boston.