Tim Thomas explores options to make NHL return


Dust off you below-the-belt bunker jokes, because TSN road buddies Bob McKenzie and Pierre LeBrun report that Tim Thomas is expected to announce his intention to return to the NHL in the near future.

The 39-year-old goalie is known for throwing curveballs toward the general hockey world, especially when it comes to announcements, so be sure to apply the usual “don’t assume it’s 100 percent until it’s official” caveats.

Update: LeBrun points to this Tweet by Thomas’ agent Bill Zito.

Another update: Zito apparently took that Tweet down, but LeBrun said he discussed the situation with Zito on Monday. So it sounds like it could still be legitimate, although you never really know with Thomas.

Regardless, it makes for a fascinatingly redemptive free agent goalie class, as Thomas headlines a list heavy with risk-reward choices alongside Ilya Bryzgalov.

The most obvious question is whether Thomas can approach his outstanding work a) a full year out of the league at an advanced age and b) without Zdeno Chara patrolling his blueline. Sitting out a season would be tougher for any netminder, but what about for a goalie with such an unorthodox style?

Still, there could be plenty of teams who feel just fine with rolling the dice regarding a guy with two Vezina Trophies, a Conn Smythe, Stanley Cup, and .921 save percentage on his resume.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: