Tuesday afternoon the National Hockey League announced that Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas had been named to the Eastern Conference team in the 2008 NHL All-Star Game.
Thomas was quite understandably taken aback by the news and, via phone, told BostonBruins.com, "It hasn't quite settled in yet."
This marks Thomas' first appearance in the NHL All-Star Game and is a milestone in what has been a long and interesting career.
Thomas has played in seven leagues (in four countries) since breaking into the national scene with the NCAA's University of Vermont Catamounts in 1993 and being chosen by Quebec (their 11th pick, 217th overall) in the 1994 draft.
Tim had been quite candid about his hoping to make the game in the NHL, no doubt believing that this year's success (and his age, 33) had afforded him the best opportunity in his career to crack the lineup. And perhaps, after bouncing around the hockey world for well over a decade, Thomas was looking for a stamp of approval.
When the hockey media looked at the stats and called him a candidate, he said that an All-Star nomination would be "a dream come true" and the highlight of his professional life.
When he missed the cut, he clearly looked like a man who felt he had missed out on a special experience. No matter. To his credit he told the press that instead of Atlanta he was going to take his daughter to F.A.O. Schwartz in New York City.
On Tuesday, Thomas asked his daughter Kiley if it was okay if they postponed that trip.
"I asked her, 'Are you disappointed?' And she's like, 'No! I am going to Atlanta.' So I told her that there is a great aquarium there…so that's what we'll do instead," he explained with a chuckle.
Thomas currently leads all NHL goaltenders with a .927 save percentage, a ranking he has held most of the season, and just misses the top ten overall in the league with a 2.38 goals against average.
He has played in 32 of Boston's 48 games this season with a 15-11-3 record and one shutout in those contests.
The 5'11, 200 lb. native of Flint, Michigan has won his last two games and is 5-2-0 in his last seven starts. He has allowed two-goals-or-less in 18 of his 29 complete games this season, including his fifth career shutout in a 2-0 win over Washington on January 3. Last weekend, the veteran netminder led Boston to two wins over the New York Rangers in a home-at-home series.
When asked if he saw making the mid-winter classic as some kind of vindication or that NHL stamp of approval, Thomas demurred.
"I haven't really though about it all the way through (and) I never really thought about any of that stuff," said Thomas who took a few seconds to gather his thoughts.
"Every year I just wanted to do better and show that I can play in this league."
Thomas must have done some more thinking about the achievement after talking on the phone, because when he was interviewed later in the day, he brought his whole experience full circle.
In between periods of VERSUS broadcast of the Bruins game with Montreal, Tim told the national TV audience, "The whole experience is going to be great. It will be fun to be reunited with Marty St. Louis. You know, a couple of Catamounts back together and on the same team.