Tim Thomas spent nine successful seasons in the NHL, including winning the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy and the Vezina Trophy twice. Thomas also represented the United States on the international stage eight times, including in the 2010 Olympics.
Thomas spoke with USA Hockey about being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 2019 class.
USA Hockey: What does it mean to you to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame?
Tim Thomas: It’s an honor to be recognized. All the people who have helped me along the way share in this great honor and it’s amazing all the wonderful things the sport has brought my life. To think I’m being recognized with this Class and all those that have been previously inducted is extremely humbling.
USAH: Who are some of the biggest influences in your hockey career?
TT: My dad, of course. And certainly Jim Craig from the 1980 Olympic Team. There were so many people that made an impact on me in so many ways and it is tough to single people out, which I’m going to quit doing right now. As I look back, I’ve had so many good coaches and even if I didn’t agree with everything, I learned something from all of them and am so thankful.
USAH: What is the most memorable moment in your career?
TT: Obviously winning the Stanley Cup is its own level and stands above all others. Winning the championship in Finland was a pretty crazy experience as well, and getting to what now is called the Frozen Four today when I was in college was unbelievable and something I’ll always remember.
USAH: Originally, how did you get involved in hockey?
TT: My dad was a hockey fan and he played a tiny bit of pond hockey. We had the Flint Generals growing up and he liked to go to the games. He started to take me with him when I was three and I fell in love with the sport. My dad started shooting on me from the living room floor when I was four. When I was five, I started playing as a forward. That was the same time as the 1980 Olympics and Jim Craig became a hero of mine.I wanted to play in the Olympics. I started playing goalie when I was six and then things just evolved from there.
USAH: What did it mean to you to represent Team USA on the international stage during your career?
TT: Obviously it was something I dreamed of and it meant a lot to me. I was honored to be picked. When you think of all the players in the country and when your name is called it’s quite an honor. Through the times I was chosen to play for Team USA, I got to learn a lot through travel in foreign countries. I had the chance to come across players from all nations and made relationships that would have never been possible without those opportunities.
USAH: What’s it like to look back on that magical Stanley Cup run with Boston?
TT: It was an amazing run. When I look back on it, I didn’t get to appreciate it as much as I would have liked to when we won. I was so focused on each game of every series. You develop a not-too-high and not-too-low attitude because your body can’t tolerate those big energy swings. And when we won, I was still kind of stuck in that mode. What we accomplished together as a team sank in over time, but as I look back at it, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have.
USAH: What would say to young players aspiring to play professionally?
TT: For young kids, I’d tell them to focus on having fun and making yourself into being the best player you can and not be focused on being a professional athlete.
USAH: What was the key to your success in the NHL?
TT: I think my goal of always trying to get better was really important. I was always trying to see how good I could get. That can be hard to do when you the focus is on wins and losses. As a goaltender, you can get into survival mode. I realized the last several years I was playing, the competition was against myself to be as good as I could be and not to show I was better than someone else. That for me was a much more positive way of thinking and it led to success in my later years.