DETROIT -- Jimmy Howard has never met Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas and outside of a teleconference call has never had a conversation with him.
Regardless, the 27-year old Red Wings starting goalie can tell you a lot about the 37-year old Thomas, simply because he's been a fan for quite a while.
"I've never met him, but I've got a lot of respect for him and what he's done in his career," said Howard, who will face Thomas' defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins on Friday in the Thanksgiving Showcase (1 p.m., NBC) at TD Garden. "He just continues to amaze people. The path that he had was a long one and probably made it that much sweeter for him. He's taken control of everything and you can tell he's having fun with it, too. So, it's great to see that."
It's also an inspiring story -- not only for Howard, but for all goalies.
Despite being from Flint, Mich., Thomas wasn't recruited by Michigan or Michigan State and instead played collegiately for the University of Vermont. He was drafted in the ninth round (No. 217) by the then-Quebec Nordiques and proceeded to bounce around the globe playing hockey.