Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/17/13
When former Bruins All-Star goalie Tim Thomas walked away from hockey and a $3 million contract 17 months ago he basically said he needed a mental break to devote more time to the "three F's: Family friends and faith.'' Now wearing a Florida Panthers No. 34 jersey and practicing with new and old teammates at Saveology.com Iceplex on Tuesday morning the 39-year-old two-time Vezina-Stanley Cup champion goalie is into the three R's saying he feels "rejuvenated refreshed and ready to go.'' "I feel almost reborn in a way'' Thomas said to an unusually large media throng after his first 'professional tryout' session. "After 14 years of pro hockey I needed a break. Now I'm energized and looking forward to it. I feel great.'' Thomas said he knocked off two of the three F's on his self-imposed hiatus- family and faith - but didn't get around to too many friends. He spent the year reconnecting with wife Melissa and three children ages 7 to 13 as well as developing townhomes and hunting for alligators in the Everglades. "I got one and kind of made it into a rug not one you walk on'' joked Thomas about his gator prey. After not watching any hockey in the regular season Thomas started getting the itch to return during the Bruins' run to the Stanley Cup finals in June. He began working out and hit the ice in July where he trained with Russian great Igor Larionov in Michigan. "I started getting the competitive juices going when I saw [the Bruins] have the success they had'' said Thomas who has spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins but didn't become a starter until 2006 at 32. "I was so proud of those guys and what they accomplished.'' Thomas had become a controversial figure in Boston after his blunt Facebook posts and his snub of President Barack Obama's invitation to join his Cup-winning team at the White House in January 2012 because of political differences stating the "federal government has grown out of control.'' Thomas who admitted he missed hockey but not the media wasn't backing off his political views. But he wants to move on. "I'm into a totally different phase now'' said Thomas who brings with him a Conn Smythe MVP trophy 246 wins including playoffs and a 2.48 career goals-against-average. "I have a new love for playing the game and newfound appreciation to play at this level and be part of a team. I just feel totally new.'' Thomas' presence creates an instant goalie controversy with long-time goalie of the future Jacob Markstrom who came into camp as the definitive starter. Thomas sees it more as a partnership and hopes to mentor the 23-year-old Swede by example. "Just the way I carry myself and way I'll compete on a day-to-day basis in practice and games'' Thomas said. "I definitely came here to play hockey no doubt about that but within a team spectrum I never compete against a goalie on my team. "I'm competing against myself and if I play the best I can I'll get results and the playing time.''
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