The incident took place during the Bruins 1-0 shutout of the Rangers, smack dab in the middle of a TV timeout when, according to Thomas, "nothing happens". It is one of hockey's many unwritten rules.
Not one who routinely subscribes to the idea of rules, a nonchalant Avery skated up behind a stretching Thomas and, with his eyes looking to the crowd in mock interest, smacked the goalie.
Avery played it up as if he didn't see Thomas, feigning surprise that he had come under attack. Minor penalties were assessed for the major players of this mini drama.
There is no doubt the Ranger agitator deliberately meant to slap his stick on Thomas' head, but what the replay also reveals is Avery's unrequited man crush on the Bruins net-minder.
For those not in the know, a man crush, according to that bastion of the English lexicon The Urban Dictionary, is defined as one man's respect, admiration, and idolization of another man in a non-sexual way.
Celebrities and politicians have been known to have man crushes on each other; just look at Ben Affleck and Matt Damon or George Bush, Sr. and Bill Clinton. In the case of Affleck and Damon, their mutual admiration and respect for each other earned them an Oscar.
For the former presidents, the two came together following the tsunami disaster, forming a bond in a time of tragedy that, to this day, can not be broken.
And so, it would appear Sean Avery has developed a man crush on Thomas and chose to express his feeling for him by giving him a love tap on the back of the head, a sign of respect for great player.
What Avery has failed to realize is his lengthy track record of stupidity, culminated by the unfortunate "sloppy seconds" other NHL players know all too well, referring to his ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert.
By all accounts, Tim Thomas is a nice guy. Through hard work and dedication, he has persevered, earning his stripes with stints in Hamilton, Birmingham, and a starring role in Finland before getting his chance in Boston. He has proved to be a pivotal part of this Bruins team and instrumental in the team's run to the top of the Eastern Conference.
His payoff: a four-year, $20 million contract extension.
What this proves is Thomas does not gladly deal with fools and he will not tolerate Avery's antics. For the man crush to be reciprocated, Avery would have to change his ways, denounce his past, apologize, and move forward. He must earn respect from his fellow players both on and off the ice, the same way Thomas did, and be every bit a stand-up citizen who bites his tongue when the subject of ex-girlfriends comes up.
Then, and only then, could Avery, perhaps, hang with Thomas in the off-season, golfing and sipping beers, letting down his defences, and discussing his feelings with Thompson as they mutually crush on each other's hockey prowess.
Everyone loves a happy ending but it seems unlikely Avery is going to stay on the straight and narrow. The league better get used to love taps to the back of the head and Avery better get used to sipping beers by himself.