Then, his replacement in goal, Tuukka Rask, surprised others when he signed only a one-year contract.
Rask, seen as the possible long-term replacement for Thomas, said his choice was not a risk for either him or the Bruins.
"You can’t really think of it that way, because you’re kind of digging yourself a hole there, but sometimes you’ve got to think what’s best for the team and what’s best for yourself," Rask said Thursday, according to WEEI Radio. "I think this is a really good scenario for all of us."
The 25-year-old agreed to his $3.5 million contract on June 29 rather than becoming a restricted free agent. He played 23 games last season as Thomas' backup, and was sidelined after March 3 with an abdominal injury.
"So we just figured that it’s best for both of us and then if I have a good year then maybe sign up a longer deal and if I [stink] then kick me off basically," Rask said, according to the team's website.
Rask has a 2.20 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage with 11 shutouts in in 102 career games.
"You know, I’ve been waiting for a few years now," Rask said of becoming the starter. "It’s going be interesting to see how I handle it and it’s going be a challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge and you've just got to make the most of it and have fun."
He said he will miss Thomas but supported his friend, who revealed his plans in early June.
"I mean I wasn’t expecting him to do that, obviously, but I really appreciate what he’s done and I appreciate his decision to want to be with the family and take some time off hockey," Rask said.
"So, it really didn’t shock me that much, but [it's] more like I’m upset to see him leave because we had a really good connection and friendship going on."
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