January 1, 2010

Thomas gets Olympic nod

Tim Thomas (photo: Getty)

It will be a day Tim Thomas won’t soon forget.

As expected following Friday’s Winter Classic at Fenway Park, the Bruins’ goaltender was named to the U.S. Olympic team. He will be joined in net by Buffalo’s Ryan Miller and Jonathan Quick (Hamden, Conn.) of the L.A. Kings.

Thomas was the last member of Team USA announced over the public address at the conclusion of Friday’s game, a 2-1 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He returned to the makeshift rink wearing his blue Team USA jersey, and saluted a phalanx of young players representing his Olympic teammates.

“I’ve been waiting 30 years for this opportunity,” he told the crowd. “I couldn’t be happier.”

Joining Thomas on Team USA for the Games in Vancouver is New York Rangers captain Chris Drury (Trumbull, Conn.). This will be the third Olympics for Drury, 33, who played in six games during the Americans’ run to the silver medal in Salt Lake City in 2002, and six more in Turin in 2006.

His season with the Rangers was interrupted by a concussion suffered in November, which cost him a handful of games. In 35 games, he has five goals and nine assists, well off his career averages.

Left off the squad were Anaheim defenseman Ryan Whitney (Scituate, Mass.) and Atlanta defenseman Ron Hainsey (Bolton, Conn.). The team is made up of 13 forwards, seven defensemen and the three goalies.

Also being selected for Team USA was former Bruins forward Phil Kessel – now with Toronto -- and former Boston College standout Brooks Orpik, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The team, assembled by GM Brian Burke (Providence, R.I.), is being guided by Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson (Riverside, R.I.). His assistants are the Rangers’ John Tortorella (Melrose, Mass.) and the Islanders’ Scott Gordon (Easton, Mass.).

Burke said Thomas was picked as the No. 2 goalie, with Miller ahead of him and the young Quick behind him. Quick, the former UMass standout, is 21-13-3 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .904 save percentage as the Kings’ top backstop.

“The goaltending position was probably the easiest for us to get through,” said Burke. “That’s where we’ve got some depth.”

Thomas is the fifth Bruin named to an Olympic team. Earlier in the week, Zdeno Chara (Slovakia), Patrice Bergeron (Canada), Marco Sturm (Germany) and David Krejci (Czech Republic) were tabbed to play for their countries.

The men's hockey competition will begin on Feb. 16 and conclude with the gold-medal game on Feb. 28. Team USA plays its first game Feb. 16 against Switzerland. Canada and Norway are the other teams in its pool.

Mike Zhe can be reached at mzhe@hockeyjournal.com.