Claude Julien, Tim Thomas' rise to prominence and nomination for the Vezina Trophy is a movie waiting to happen.BOSTON -- According to Bruins coach
"There's no doubt that his story is going to make for a real good story when it's all said and done," Julien said of his No. 1 goaltender. "It's great to see him get rewarded."
Thomas, who spent nine years working his way up the ranks to get a legitimate shot in the NHL, has accomplished so much and proven himself so many times. Anyone who didn't think that Thomas was worthy of being a finalist this season needs a reality check.
"I think it's obviously warranted. I think he deserves it and hopefully he gets it," Julien said. "So it's just one of those things that he's done enough for this team and he certainly deserves the recognition. I just think that at what point, what do you have to try to keep proving? To me, he doesn't have to prove anything. I don't think he has to prove to anybody that he belongs in this League."
Thomas, who will be in action Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RIS) against the Carolina Hurricanes, led the NHL in goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (9.33) and posted a 36-11-7 record. He was honored to be nominated for the Vezina, but took the recognition with humility.
"It's quite an honor. Just breaking into the NHL a few years ago, you're always trying to make your goals bigger, but you want to make them reasonable. You know, one step at a time," Thomas said. "Being a Vezina finalist was always off my radar. I think as the year went on this year, I realized that there might be a chance. But it's quite an honor."
While Thomas has most definitely proved he belongs in the NHL with this Vezina nomination, two All-Star appearances and a new four-year, $20 million contract, he sees leading his team to the Stanley Cup as another opportunity to prove himself.
"That's the ultimate prize, of course, and I hope I can help us do that, but right now we need to be focused on the next game because that approach is what got us here," Thomas said. "But overall, I think if you compete hard and always feel like you can prove to yourself you're better each day, that is what keeps you going. That is what got me here and that is what I need to do to stay at this level and succeed."
Julien saw that competitiveness in Thomas when he first started coaching the Bruins, and it hasn't stopped.
"I still remember that one day when we were trying to get our team to score more and we did those 3-on-0s and you had to stay until you scored and at one point I had to blow the whistle because Timmy wasn't letting them score. So I called, 'Uncle,' " said Julien with a laugh. "That just showed me his competitiveness. He was diving everywhere and was determined not to let them score."
That is what got Thomas through so many seasons overseas and in the minors, living out of a suitcase and always holding onto his dream that he is living now. But who would star in the movie if this dream-come-true tale made it to the big screen?
"Oh I'm not going there but like I said, there is a movie waiting to happen when all is said and done," Julien cracked. "It's a great story."