Friday, May 13, 2011

Tim Thomas Discusses the Eastern Conference Finals Match with the Tampa Bay Lightning (Transcript)

This was a post that was supposed to go up yesterday but was delayed by the Blogger outage. The NHL had a conference call on Thursday with Boston's Vezina nominated goalie Tim Thomas.

Make the jump to see the transcript in its entirity provided by NHL Media Services...

Tim Thomas Conference Call Transcript - May 12, 2011

Q.  Tim, I wanted to ask you, how big was it for the team's confidence to overcome the deficit in the first round against Montreal and then to beat Philly the way you did after what happened last year?

TIM THOMAS:  I think we had the confidence before we went into the playoffs that we could win against those teams, specifically, that we played.  But it took us a little while before we got engaged in that first series for whatever reason.  I don't know exactly what those reasons were.  That includes myself, too.

But beating Montreal in Montreal the first time in overtime there in Game 3 really did help our confidence.  But our confidence was good going into the playoffs, but I just think it's grown, obviously, with the success that we've had.

Q.  Marty St. Louis - do you look at your careers as paralleled?  He was a small player and then had to go to Europe to play, and now you're playing against one another in the Eastern Conference Final.  And can you just rehash the story why you didn't go to UMASS Lowell because Dwayne Roloson was there?

TIM THOMAS:  Yeah, well, first, I don't think we've had exactly parallel careers, but we've had similarities.  The similarities were that for different reasons, Marty because of his size, and me because of my style - early on in our careers we kind of got labeled as people that would never be able to do it at the NHL level because of those two things.

But we both took long roads to get to the NHL.  It branches off a little bit because Marty broke through first, and he got his first opportunities in the NHL at an earlier time than I did and obviously went on to great success at an earlier stage than I did.  So there are similarities, but differences.  Now I think we're having similar type careers again as far as the fact that we're both in the Eastern Conference Final, we're both doing very well.  We're both very, very competitive and leave everything on the ice.

I know it's not going to be easy playing against Marty St. Louis, so I have to be ready for that.

As far as the Dwayne Roloson thing, originally, when I graduated from high school, I wasn't recruited by any college.  I had to go down to juniors, and I made that team as the third goalie.  I won't even get into that.  But the next summer I was recruited by UMASS Lowell and Michigan Tech. Both those teams had juniors that were returning as seniors.  Jamie Ramm at Michigan Tech and Dwayne Roloson at UMASS Lowell.  Basically both coaches were upfront.  They told me they wanted me to go to their schools, but if I did, I'd play three games max.

So when Vermont called, they were the only school that at the told me if I went there I had a chance to play right away.  I'd have to earn it.  They weren't promising it or guaranteeing it.  It would be a trial between me and the two goalies they had that were juniors.  But I had the opportunity. So I chose not to go to UMASS Lowell because of Dwayne Roloson, basically. It changed everything.

Q.  Did you guys use last year's collapse in the playoffs as any kind of motivation or was it talked about at all either before the season or before the playoffs like hey, we can get past this or hey, we can still do good things here?

TIM THOMAS:  No, it was more one of those topics that really certainly wasn't touched upon early in the season.  When we got down in  when we got to the playoffs, maybe it was mentioned a couple of times, but more especially when we were down 2-0 to Montreal.  More on the reference of "we know how playoffs are, it doesn't mean anything.  We just have to turn it around and win one game and win one more game, and win one more game."

So that's the first time the subject was really broached.  Then, obviously, it was brought up mostly in the media questioning and during that Philadelphia series.  So it was, if anything, we probably used it as motivation to really want to get that fourth win against Philadelphia so it didn't snow ball out of control.

Because look at what Detroit's done in the San Jose series, and they're talking about a possible comeback and stuff.  But if that was Boston right now, if it was Philadelphia winning Game 4, 5 and 6, I think you guys use your imaginations and realize how crazy it would have gotten, and how difficult it would have been as a player to actually win that 7th game because negative thoughts get in your mind all the time.

So we were very happy to win that fourth game against Philadelphia to kind of put that behind us.  Hopefully it's a topic that never has to be thought of, at least in the same way, again.

Q.  In saying that, when teams are down 3-0, they never say we're done, we're out of it.  They always say like you did, just one game and then another.  Now what happened with Philadelphia last year with Chicago and now Detroit, do those 3-0 deficits seem that now they can be overcome?

TIM THOMAS:  Well, we knew they could be overcome before last year, because that three, maybe it was four years ago, we were down 3-0 in a series against the Canadiens.  That's when they were the number 1 seed and we were the number 8 seed.  We took it to a Game 7.

We won 4, 5 and 6 and took it to a Game 7.  If I'm remembering correctly, which I believe I am.  But you might want to fact check that on Google or something first. So we knew it could happen.  But having said that, winning that and coming back is hard.  Winning that 7th game is very difficult.  Even when Philly did it, they had to overcome a 3-0 deficit in that Game 7.

So speaking of Detroit, I don't know.  I don't have a clue which way it's going to go tonight.  But if you happen to be the team with the lead, you really have to bear down.

But it's dangerous.  The playoffs are the playoffs.  Part of the reason you're up 3-0 in the series is probably because you worked harder and gave more energy than the other team.  So if you don't win that deciding game in games 4 or 5, it gets more and more difficult to get that fourth win because you've used more energy early in the series.

That's part of what the momentum swing is.  The team that's winning earlier in the series is using more energy.  That's probably part of what happened in the Detroit series.  Then at that time when it gets near the end of the series it becomes an endurance contest.

Q.  Do you feel the layoff between series will affect you at all?  Would you prefer to get right back at it?

TIM THOMAS:  Well, first of all, I haven't put too much thought into it because it's just one of those things that you can't control.  Probably everyone's heard "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."  That's pretty good wisdom there and I try to follow that.

Having said that, there's times during this week that we've had that I wish we could just get at it.  Then there are other times where it's a good thing.  I can think of one area that is a good thing.  I've been able to get a lot of the media and the media interviews done at a time when it really shouldn't impact or take the energy out of my game preparation.

So you can look at it in a positive or negative way.  I prefer to look at it as get the most positives you can out of it.  There is nothing you can do about it.  Both teams are doing pretty much the same thing in this case. It's not like one team was playing and one team was sitting.

Q.  Is it kind of amazing to think a year ago you're undergoing hip surgery and here you are leading the team to the conference finals?  And I guess as a second question to that one, did surgery force you to rethink how you played the position?

TIM THOMAS:  It is amazing.  I haven't taken too much time to really focus on how different it is this year than last year, because still too busy putting all my focus and energy toward trying to accomplish more.

As far as the hip surgery making me have to rethink my game, yes and no. When I had the surgery and I'm recovering and rehabbing from the surgery, I did wonder how it was going to affect the way that I played or the way that I had to play.  But actually when I got to playing and realized how good the hip was, it actually allowed me to play the way that I wanted to.

So I didn't have to really change anything.  I actually had to change less than I had to change even last year when I was playing with the injury.  So it kind of put me back to a spot where I didn't have to change much, I could just play.  I think that's added to my success this year.

Q.  Following up on that, when you're looking at hip surgery at age 36 and now that you've had a full season and a couple series, when you looked back, did your personal results surpass your expectation?

TIM THOMAS:  Yes and no.  A lot of the stuff that I've accomplished this year are goals that I actually set for myself last summer.  Not exactly like to the number, like I'm thinking oh, I'm going to have a .9-whatever save percentage, not like that.

One goal I did have was to be a Vezina finalist.  That's one of the things I thought of last summer.  And one goal, one dream that I thought a lot about was raise the Stanley Cup over my head.

In that way I'm not surprised, because they are goals that I made.  But the other side of that coin is you can make goals, but you never know whether you're going to be able to accomplish them.

I'm not explaining this correctly, but I'm doing the best I can.  But having said that, who would have thought it?  I was probably the only one that was thinking it, so that was something that was at least a possibility.  I understand why other people are surprised.  I'm not that surprised myself, maybe that's the best way.

Q.  Can you describe the difference in mindset?  The contrasting mindset with a year ago you're hamstrung on the bench there, you've got a bad hip, watching your mates on the ice in the playoffs.  Now here you are playing so strong and you guys are doing so well.

TIM THOMAS:  Well, it was a totally different perspective last year.  It gave me a unique perspective because I was on the bench, and I got to see the game from a different viewpoint than I'd ever gotten to see it before.

I'd watched playoffs on TV, but at every level I've been at I've always been the one who played in the playoffs.  Even when there were times that other goalies only played one game or something.  It gave me a unique perspective to be a part of the team too and what goes into having success in the playoffs.  Where sometimes when you're just the one playing and in the net, you're not on the bench, you're not cut completely apart, and you can forget.

That's one thing I learned from last year is that even if you're not on the bench, you can be a part of that whole team feeling that helps you to have success in the playoffs.

But it also really increased my hunger to want to be able to play in the playoffs and what a gift and opportunity that is to be in the NHL playoffs and competing at the high level for the Stanley Cup.

Having said that, I rehabed my hip really hard starting at about mid April last year.  By the time we got to the second round playoffs of Philadelphia, I was actually feeling really good and really strong.  I had the ability to play, so that changed my outlook.

I actually had a more positive outlook during that last Philadelphia series personally.  For the first time last year I felt like I could play to the level I wanted to play.  Then I had to go have surgery, which you never know how that's going to turn out.  But I had the ability to play towards the end of last season and that helps me coming into this year, helped my confidence coming into this year.

Q.  Tim, it was 1999, you were invited to the Lightning camp.  Did you have any recollections of that?

TIM THOMAS:  I was signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning for that whole season, actually.  I was on a two way contract.  And I played the whole year with the Detroit Vipers, the minor league team though.

It was the first year that  I forget the guy's name that owned the Palace of Auburn Hills (Bill Davidson).  He owned the Vipers there.  He bought the Tampa Bay Lightning.  I was down there for a while during camp, five or six weeks, so I remembered quite a bit.  I remember quite a bit.

More Later...

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