Thomas is ‘a great goalie, a great battler and a great person,’ says Panthers’ Campbell

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Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell has played with Tim Thomas before (in Finland, during the 2004-05 lockout), and he welcomes the opportunity to do so again.

For Campbell, Thomas’ politics are no concern.

“Timmie has strong political views and I think that’s great,” said Campbell, per the Miami Herald. “I’ve learned a lot from him. You can ask him questions about things.

“Everyone has their opinions and that doesn’t hurt anyone. The whole White House thing, well, maybe you would like him to go but he cares about his country. If that’s his biggest fault, well, let’s move past it. He has strong views about everything, not just politics.”

Thomas will reportedly join Panthers practice Tuesday on a tryout basis.

Of note, Campbell’s comments today were very much in line with those of his former coach in Boston, Claude Julien.

“Tim wasn’t a bad person. I’m very clear on that,” said Julien in February, per the Boston Globe. “He’s a person that had his views, and was pretty strong in his own views at times. But never a bad person. That’s why a lot of times, we didn’t feel he was a distraction. He was just a guy that thought differently. I know a lot of times guys would say, ‘You know what? As long as he stops pucks, we’re OK with it.’ That was the consensus of our players in the dressing room.”

Thomas, 39, took last year off from hockey to focus on “friends, family and faith.”

“I enjoyed my time playing with Tim,” said Campbell. “He’s a great goalie, a great battler and a great person. Him coming here is a bonus for us. We feel we have two strong goaltenders here but if you can add a piece like this, it’s not going to hurt you.”

Related: Thomas is a smart gamble for Panthers