08.24.2011 / 11:32 AM ETDAVISON, Mich. --
Cup keepers Phil Pritchard and Howie Borrow literally have their hands full today. With the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophies all in attendance with Tim Thomas
, handling the hardware requires skill, grace and tact.
These guys wouldn't trade their jobs for anything, especially not today, not when it is for a classy player like Thomas.
"Obviously with Tim Thomas
it's a special day. For a guy like Tim Thomas
, as humble as he is, to have so much hardware, it's pretty amazing," Pritchard told NHL.com. "We were joking because we have a van full of silverware and there is a bus full of Thomases with six cop cars following us. If the people knew, especially the Red Wings fans knew what was in the van as it drove by ... it is quite a day. The Vezina, Cup and Conn Smythe -- how do you ask for more than that out of maybe the best goalie in the game?"
But the logistics of bringing three trophies in giant cases across the border is quite a task.
Pritchard and Borrow drove here from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
"We always have to set up more time," Pritchard said. "You're crossing the border and they ask you citizenship, where you're going and you explain it to them. They ask you again because all of a sudden they realize it and it clicks in, 'What do you mean? What do you have in there?'
"You have that extra 20 minutes built in for the customs people and usually people are getting out of their cars," he added. "So, it causes a bit of havoc, but it just shows how much the game has spread. There are hockey fans everywhere. Here we are in the middle of August and they're stopping and pulling over to get photos."
Everyone else is raving, but the man of the hour seems as humble as ever. Pritchard, who has gotten to know Thomas well, said that's the real man behind the mask.
"First off, he's a goalie and they're a different breed. They've got to be patient and they've got to be calm, and Tim has all those attributes," Pritchard said. "You've seen him. He is what he is. When he takes that mask off, that's Tim Thomas
. He's very calm, very quiet, very laid back.
"The focus is on him today but I don't think he wants the focus," Pritchard continued. "He wants to be part of it for sure, but I think he wants to be the team guy. But, it's all about Tim Thomas
today whether he likes it or not. He earned it and his family and friends are coming out in droves to see it."-- Dan Rosen
Conquering hero returns to his roots08.24.2011 / 9:58 AM ETDAVISON, Mich. -- Tim Thomas
didn't move here until he was a freshman in high school, but he and his brother, Jake, consider Davison to be home. That's why we are here today.
"We moved a lot," Jake Thomas told NHL.com. "But, this is where we stayed the longest."
Thomas still has family here as his cousin, Matt, recently moved back to Davison with his wife Tammy and their children. Tammy Thomas helped organize this Cup day and will be hosting the private family party at her house this evening.
Thomas started his day in the parking lot of his alma mater, Davison High School. He met up with Cup keepers Phil Pritchard and Howie Borrow along with his entire family.
Thomas was his normal self - humble, reserved and friendly. He joked around with his kids (Kylie, Keegan and Kelsey) along with his nieces and nephews (Hunter, Hayden, Hudson and Hanna). He didn't take the Cup, Vezina or Conn Smythe out of the cases.
Davison is a quiet community, but with Thomas and his hardware in town today, it has become the place to be. In fact, Thomas and his family rode in a school bus between a police escort to his first stop, the Valley Church of Christ in Burton.
Cars pulled over as the motorcade passed by on the rural roads. Police were stationed at stop lights to make sure no one went on a green so the motorcade could get through. There was a camera crew waiting to film Thomas pulling into the church parking lot.
He is inside now for an invite-only event with the congregation. Thomas told me he knows "roughly 85 or 90 percent of the congregation, and a lot are family.
"Anybody that looks like my dad is in my family," he added.
Thomas wanted to bring it here because these people are close to him.
Thomas, who is taking pictures with the congregation, didn't start attending this particular church until after college, but he lived nearby during the offseason until he was 30 before moving to Colorado Springs.
They love him here and they even have a wall dedicated to his press clippings. The sign outside the church reads a welcome home to their Stanley Cup champion.-- Dan RosenNot raining on his parade08.23.2011 / 8:30 PM ETAUBURN HILLS, Mich. --
Even if it rains over Michigan on Wednesday, Tim Thomas
should still have a shiny day.
The three throphies he earned are headed his way for him to celebrate with on his Cup day.
Of course, the Stanley Cup will be the star of the show, but coming along with the silver dream come true is the Conn Smythe and the Vezina. Thomas cleaned up with those individual awards as well as the Cup in June.
He is supposed to be starting his day at his church in his old hometown of Davison, Mich., which is just outside of Flint. Thomas is expected to hold an event there for a while before moving on to Davison High School for lunch and a public event. He will conclude with a party for family and friends.
There is likely more to the day than just that, and even all of the aforementioned itinerary is subject to change.
We will nevertheless be there the entire way, documenting Thomas and his day with his three new best friends.
Be sure to follow along.-- Dan Rosen