Here’s to everyone who doubted me
Tim Thomas NHL Goalie
“I’m running into kids who are telling me I had an impact on them. Now that the shoe’s on the other foot, it actually makes me feel a little awkward.”
How it all started:
As a young kid, the 1980 USA hockey victory against USSR, “Miracle On Ice,” was the inspiration for Tim’s astounding, against-all-odds career.
The USA goalie in those Olympics, Jim Craig, became one of Tim’s heroes and cemented his desire to play goaltender. Fittingly, Tim has now represented USA in 5 World Championships and the 2010 Olympic Games.
Tim’s story starts as a developing goalie in high school in Michigan. Truth be told, at the time, Tim didn’t think he had a chance in hell to play college hockey.
Tim’s dad, trying to be the good, protective dad that he was, tried to give him the “let-you-down-easy speech” saying it didn’t matter if he didn’t make it in hockey. No matter what he chose to do, he was going to be a success. Tim was furious at this remark, and followed it up with some choice words that he’d never used with his father before, telling him he was wrong, and that he would make it!
It was difficult for Tim to get on a college team coming from Michigan high school hockey. After his senior year, he went to try out for a junior team down by Detroit, and made the team as the third string goalie. The coach had never seen or heard of him, but he had a good tryout and the coach liked his spunk, so he let him on the team, but with little playing time. Around Christmas that year, the starting goalie from Alaska missed his flight back and the second string goalie got into a minor car accident, and couldn’t make it to practice either. Tim, who always had his goalie stuff in the car, played goalie in practice and made the coaches question why they had never played him. He played the next game and almost every game for the rest of the year. This season ended up leading Tim to a scholarship at The University of Vermont.
Division I college hockey was a dream come true for Tim. One of the big highlights of his college career was their Final Four visit his junior year – the first year the university of Vermont had ever made it to the Final Four.
Tim was barely scouted by Pro teams while he was at UVM, and unfortunately, the team that had drafted him didn’t have much interest in signing him. So after college he played in the lowest pro ranks of east coast hockey. He slowly worked his way up, but it took a couple more years before he would get any real interest from the NHL.
And the rest is History:
After being drafted 217th overall and being nearly booed out of goal early on, Tim is now a two-time winner of the NHL’s Vezina Trophy (2009 and 2011) as the league’s best goaltender, and was a member of Team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy for Most Valuable Player in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. Winning it, along with the Stanley Cup, at age 37, he became the oldest player and only the second American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in NHL history.
Tim continues to Prove People wrong:
Tim was doubted his entire career, but instead of giving up, he chose to use people’s doubt to fuel his own success. Throughout his career people told him that his style is too unconventional, that he’s not athletic enough, too small to be a successful goalie at the NHL level, and too unorthodox. Ironically, with his success, Tim’s style and athleticism have redefined how kids are taught to play goalie today.
“If you truly believe in yourself and you’re willing to put in the work and find a way to get it done, then you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.”