BostonBruins.com -- As he sat behind a desk for a press conference on the football field at his old high school in Davison, Michigan, B's goaltender Tim Thomas
was asked about his visit home and the many laurels that were bestowed on him in recognition of his Stanley Cup heroics.
"No I didn’t think id have a bridge named after me I was pretty surprised when that happened," said Thomas of the naming of a local span and the keys to the city given in his honor on "Tim Thomas
Day" in Davison.
"It’s pretty cool.
"And you know, in this area this high school -- obviously everyone’s high school -- has a big impact on their life," he said.
Throughout the day Thomas was reunited with some of the people who had a major impact on his career, including Tom Barrow, who coached Tim during his time at Davison High.
"He had a huge impact on the way the rest of my career turned out," said Thomas of trips with Barrow to local men's league games. "He was trying to teach me patience and not to go so far out of my crease.
"I think he somewhat failed at that," added Thomas with a knowing laugh. "But no, he was a great role model at that time in my life and someone to look up to."
And now, Thomas is pleased to be someone that kids look up to in terms of an example of hard work and perseverance.
"I’m happy if that’s what they’re taking out of it, that’s what I want them to take out of it," said Thomas. "You know, the Stanley Cup is awesome, but I think that’s a more important thing to focus on than the Stanley Cup or the Conn Smyth or the Vezina.
"It’s not the easiest of times, lets be honest, in the United States right now. There’s high unemployment in the younger generation and I think they need hope and they need to see that you know, that need to be inspired."
Thomas hopes that his own youthful dreams -- and his willingness to work for them to come true -- is something that is not lost on the kids who see him play and he thinks that work ethic was learned on the streets, rinks and schoolyards of Davison and Flint.
"I think the Midwest work ethic was highly instilled in me growing up. But I was also taught if you want something bad enough and you’re willing to work towards it that you can get it," said Thomas. "It’s kind of the American dream, so to speak, which I think some people have kind of given up on.
"But you know I’m proof that you still can and you know, if there’s anything that the younger generation watching here today, or that’s part of this, takes out of it is that its up to you.
"You can do nearly whatever you want if you’re willing to work hard enough and long enough at it."
And on Wednesday, Thomas worked long and hard at thanking those people who helped instill those values in him and who cheered him on along the way.
"I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in years and I actually in a certain way had even forgot that they had supported me and that they’d been there," he said. "I saw people I worked at Domino's Pizza with, delivering pizzas.
"I saw people that I played softball with and that were friends. It was great. I was nervous before this, I’m always nervous before these type of, well anything that centers around me like that.
"Once I got up there and saw all the people and so many that I recognized I felt happy that I was able to bring this day here, bring the Cup home," he said.
But Thomas also admitted that the planning of his day, which included stops at his church and high school and a private party with family and friends, was not all his doing.
"Well to be honest with you I was so zapped from that Stanley Cup run that I barely had the energy to plan anything," said Thomas. "My cousins Matt and Tammy stepped in and they did the majority of the grunt work for me and I appreciate that from them.
"They pretty much came up with the itinerary for the day and knowing how zapped I was -- I mean, winning the Stanley Cup takes more emotional, physical and mental energy than I would have ever believe.
"I mean I’ve been tired after seasons before but after this run, it’s a hard recovery. I've had lots of friends and family that have stepped in and...picked it up trying to help me out."
However, Thomas explained that the hectic schedule following the B's Stanley Cup win was part of the package.
"This is part and parcel of winning the Cup," said Thomas. "To be honest, its been overwhelming. The whole summer and...people's response to us winning this Cup and to me winning the Cup.
"I don’t think I eve mentally prepared or thought about the reaction that would come after. I was too busy doing it. But having said that its great to be honored like that, but that isn’t the reason I played.
"The reason I played is because I love to compete and I love to challenge myself to see how good I can be."