Tim Thomas is making headlines again and this time it's actually hockey related (surprising, right?). According to a report seen on Hockey Night in Canada (and then followed up by outlets such as the Toronto Sun), Thomas might return to hockey as soon as next season.
Does that mean we'll see Thomas in an NHL uniform in 2013-14? Maybe not. Hockey Night in Canada speculates that Thomas might be looking to play in Europe when he makes his return to professional hockey.
There's nothing normal about a Tim Thomas story. After sitting out the past season for personal reasons, Thomas' return to hockey might not even be for an NHL team. Keep in mind that his rights are currently owned by the New York Islanders following a trade with the Boston Bruins. Thomas' current contract expires at the end of the 2012-13 season, but the Islanders have the option to extend him for one more year due to the fact Thomas never reported to the team.
Thomas abandoning the NHL in favor of Europe wouldn't be the most surprising thing the goaltender has ever done. The move would actually make a lot of sense given his success in Finland prior to his NHL career. During the 2004-05 NHL lockout Thomas returned to Finland and again found success in the Finnish Elite League, winning the award given to the league's best player.
A move back to Europe to close out the 39-year-old's professional career might make the most sense after his controversial statements and actions in the NHL over the past few seasons. Will it actually happen or will Thomas return to the NHL? We'll have to wait and see.