June 15, 2011

Fischler Report: Bruins' Thomas is his own man

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas turns aside Henrik Sedin. (photo: Getty)

In many ways – style-wise and otherwise – Bruins goalie Tim Thomas is reminiscent of bombastic Hall of Famer Billy Smith.

Who can forget how Smitty told off then-NHL president John Ziegler in the Islanders’ dressing room after winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1983, and giving the entire Dominion of Canada a visual jab.

Thomas – an American – had a good line when a reporter suggested that he alter his style following losses to Vancouver. To which Thomas shot back, "I have a pretty good idea of how to play goalie. I'm not going to be taking suggestions or advice at this time, so I'm going to keep playing the way I have."

Observations

Dave Ricci, checking in from Buffalo, offers this:

The buzz in Western New York has been whether or not the Sabres should pursue Chris Drury (Trumbull, Conn.). Fan polls are split between wanting and not wanting Drury.

I say if the price is right – one million for a year – the Sabres should give serious thought to bringing Drury back.

Odds are Mike Grier (Holliston, Mass.) and Rob Niedermayer will not return. If that’s the case, the Sabres will need a proven winner and a voice of leadership in the room.

Drury fits that bill.

Gossip

* Nobody would dare do so in Boston, but Bobby Orr, the agent, was way offside in his condemnation of Vancouver's Aaron Rome. After all, Rome was suspended for the entire playoff run after his late hit that sidelined Nathan Horton.

"To lose Nate for a player by the name of Rome isn’t fair," said Orr. "One of the better Bruins players is gone and they suspend (Rome). What difference does it make?"

Well, if Bobby really wants to know; were Rome repped by Orr's agenting firm, you could bet that Bobby would have buttoned his lip; but good!

* Give the Flyers credit for at least trying to end their goaltending frustrations. GM Paul Holmgren acquired the rights to impending free agent Ilya Bryzgalov from the Coyotes for a reasonable price: minor-league left wing Matt Clackson, a 2012 third-round draft pick and a conditional pick.

“We’re going to give it our best shot,” added Holmgren. “You give up an asset to get a chance to get in early, so we have every intention of trying our best to get a deal done. We’ll see what we can do. Ilya still has a good few years left in him.”

If a deal is reached, the Flyers would boast one of the top goaltending tandems in the league with Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky.

“I still think the world of Sergei,” said Holmgren. “He’s one of the top young goalies in our game.”

* Our prediction two months ago has been officially confirmed, with Pittsburgh naming Bill Guerin (Wilbraham, Mass.) the team’s player development coach.

Guerin, a two-time Stanley Cup champ – including one with Pittsburgh – will work with prospects throughout the Pens’ organization.

“Billy has only been retired as a player for one year, so he brings a new and very contemporary perspective to the position,” said GM Ray Shero. “He’s going to be a big asset to our prospects and staff throughout the organization.”

* While commissioner Gary Bettman correctly notes that the league has no further relocation candidates, the fact remains that NHL watchers figure at least two potential stateside candidates in uniquely unusual locations.

As for Quebec City's hopes for some day following Winnipeg back into the big-league fraternity, the response is realistically simple.

"Quebec City does not have a building," noted the commissioner, "and we don't have a team we're planning on relocating, nor are we planning on expansion."

* One of the best mysteries of the offseason remains unsolved: Who will be the next Devils coach? Believe us, only Lou Lamoriello (Providence, R.I.) has the answer and you know that he’s telling nobody.

Stan Fischler can be reached at FischlerReport@aol.com.