Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tim's Cup Runneth Over

He doesn't win on style.

He has never been viewed as a physical specimen.

His technique will never be taught at any schools that teach the craft. In fact, teachers routinely tell their students he is the exception, not the rule.

His business approach is, in a word, unorthodox.

But, business has never been better for the NHL's real-life Rocky Balboa. A former career minor-leaguer, he is now four wins away from leading his team to their first Stanley Cup title since Richard Nixon sat in the White House.

Unlike his Vancouver Canucks counterpart Roberto Luongo, few in the hockey world thought Tim Thomas would even play in the NHL, let alone become a Vezina Trophy winner and Stanley Cup finalist. While Luongo was a high first-round pick quickly ushered into the NHL, Thomas traveled a longer, much harder road. Rolling out of the blue-collar town of Flint, Michigan, "the Tank" is one of the most inspirational stories in the history of the sport.

Unconventional to a fault, Thomas practices yoga as a way to improve flexibility and keep his mind clear.

His approach tends to frustrate opponents like Tampa Bay's Steve Downie.

This flip-flopping, puck-stopping father of three may never satisfy the many high-browed hockey critics who question his technique (or lack thereof), but there can be no questionning his results. As a former sportscaster who called over 1000 games in the American Hockey League, I've seen my share of goalies who look great in warm-up and appear technically flawless, but don't win a lot.

Tim Thomas just stops shots.

And wins games.

Despite his creds and tireless work ethic, hockey purists still doubt this Thomas.

But when he and the Bruins hoist Lord Stanley, they'll be hard pressed to ever doubt Thomas again.

The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals will be the 118th year teams have competed for hockey's holy grail. The Vancouver Canucks, who entered the league in 1970, have been to the big dance twice, but have never won the Cup. The Boston Bruins last sipped champagne in 1972.

Game 1 is Wednesday night in Vancouver.

We're picking Bruins in 6.

What about you?

"I’ve worked for my whole life, you know to get to this point in the Stanley Cup. But you don’t dream of getting to the Stanley Cup Finals, you dream of winning the Stanley Cup. So there’s still more work to be done"

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