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Timmy Focused on B's Season

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
11:58 a.m.

NESN Programming Update
Hey, just got word that NESN will be airing a bunch of Bruins programming in order to get everyone warmed up for the season.

Each Sunday, two games will go head to head (and will be viewed at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. respectively). Then, via, the will also be conducing a viewers' poll that will determine the greatest game in NESN's Bruins history.

Polls should open on Sundays and close on Friday evening, with Friday's SportsDesk revealing the ‘winning’ game.   

Check out the lineup...
August 23rd -- NESN and Lemieux Debut vs. Rosie's '91 Heroics       
August 30th -- Murray Stuns Habs vs. "This Building is Vibrating!"       
September 6th -- Janney's Jump for Joy vs. Neely Gets 50       
September 13th -- Lights Out at the Cup vs. The Wall of Tugnutt       
September 20th -- Week 1 winner vs. Week 2 Winner
September 27th -- Week 3 winner vs. Week 4 winner   
October 4th -- Sept 20 winner vs. Sept 27 winner       
October 10th -- The Greates Game airs on Saturday, October 10.                  

I'll have further details, soon.

10:53 a.m.
The Sporting News' Ray Slover writes of Team USA: The great American overhaul will begin in earnest at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, Ill. A younger group of players will try to make their mark in the wake of the most successful group of U.S. players, whose best finish in the Games was silver at Salt Lake City in 2002.

No one will give Team USA much of a chance to medal, much less win.

More here.

10:26 a.m.
Need some more summer reading? Check out Team USA's media prospectus here (FYI: big PDF).

9:59 a.m.
Oh, by the way...
Perhaps some of you are in the Woodridge, Illinois area and are wondering about going to see Tim Thomas and Team USA practice today.

Head over to for full details.

9:53 a.m.
This morning, John Beattie at also noted that Steve Harris had a nice piece on the B's new media darling, Shawn Thornton.

But judging by his explanation of his offseason workout routine, the above sentence will be the only time that Thornton will be called "darling" anytime soon.

The B's beat cop told Harris: “Fighting isn’t the main reason I’m here. I mean, I know it won’t hurt me in that regard (with hockey fights), but the reason I signed up was more the conditioning than anything. It’s such a tough workout doing this. One day I lost seven pounds in here.”

Read the piece, here. And don't forget to check out the picture. Yikes!

9:34 a.m.
B's nowhere to be seen...
The Hockey News prediction page hasn't posted anything about the Bruins yet and they are already into the top-5. So that is a pretty good thing, right?

It was noted on last week that the B's are ranked 3rd on Yahoo Sports power rankings.

Looks like the hockey world expects a great deal from the Black & Gold this season.

8:09 a.m.

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas poses with the Vezina Trophy, for the top goaltender, at the National Hockey League awards in Las Vegas on Thursday, June 18 2009. Thomas beat out Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild in voting by the NHL's general managers. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
Like many young hockey players of his generation, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas remembers idolizing a particular guy in goal when he took to the ice sheet or street as a child. In February of 1980, after watching Team USA garner its first Olympic gold medal since 1960, Boston’s favorite “Tank” became a mini-Jim Craig as he sought to emulate the Massachusetts-born goalie when he put on his kid-sized pads.

"I was five-years old at the time, shortly going to turn 6," said Thomas, now 35, of watching Craig help lead the United States to a Miracle on Ice. "From ages 5-to-15, all I was thinking about was making to the Olympics.”

Craig, a former collegiate goalie at Boston University, born in North Easton, who would also play in the NHL with the Atlanta Flames, his hometown Boston Bruins and the Minnesota North Stars. Although he wore a mask, the former BU backstop was one of the most recognizable faces on the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team that shocked the world in Lake Placid, New York.

Today, when Thomas arrives at the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Orientation Camp in Woodridge, Illinois, Craig, and Tim’s own childhood dream, will surely be on his mind.

"He just made a huge impression on my life," added Thomas.

Unlike today, where dream teams of professional superstars hit hockey's biggest international tournament, during Thomas' formative years, the best amateur collegiate hockey players were chosen to represent the US in the Olympic Winter Games. As such, Thomas, who had always had his mind set on donning the Red, White and Blue, had to think about earning a jersey of different colors, first.

"I was an Olympic hockey player in my mind when I was playing in the garage or on the pond -- I wasn’t an NHL player," explained Thomas. "But when I was 16, 17, 18 college was a long shot so I focused on making it to college."

Thomas, who will practice with Team USA’s Group 2 this week in Woodridge, made it to college when the University of Vermont lost their starter (Christian Soucy) to the professional ranks. So, when the Catamounts, who then competed in the ECAC, got curious about Thomas and dangled a wide-open net in front of the goaltender, the Michigan native headed east to put on the Cats’ famous green and gold.

As a four-year starter Thomas, now a member of the UVM Athletic Hall of Fame became one of the most important hockey players in school history (and eventually earned a spot on several American IIHF World Championship teams).

Post-college, Thomas’ professional career, both overseas and in the minors, is a well known (and much chronicled) exercise in perseverance as the affable goalie played on nine pro teams before earning a permanent share of the crease in Boston. But how ironic it is that by idolizing Craig – himself a college hockey star and a Bruins alum -- Thomas would eventually play in the NHL, wear Black & Gold and earn Boston’s first Vezina trophy since 1983 (Pete Peters) thereby earning his own shot at Team USA’s crease.

Irony aside, and despite the understandable excitement surrounding February’s tournament, Thomas insisted that he will be focused on the B’s goals and the Boston goal crease when he travels down (or up) Route 93 to start Bruins Training Camp ’09.

"It's definitely huge," said Thomas of being invited to Team USA's camp. "And it will be one of the biggest moments in my life if I get a chance to play in the Olympics.

"And actually, during the summer, I've gotten a little overly excited about playing in the Olympics a couple of times and then I say, 'Wait, it's in February.'"

During the NHL season there is no reason to waste energy worrying or thinking about something you can't control. After all, Team USA will not be named until late in 2009.

"Once you start camp we’re going to be so busy I’m not going to worry about getting too excited too early cause we play so many games," said Thomas with a laugh. "Our schedule is so busy you don’t have time to worry about it." 

Let’s hope Timmy’s schedule stays busy in February 2010!
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