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It's Official: Tim Thomas is a Florida Panther.

Welcome back to the Flortheast, Timmeh!

Bruce Bennett

Today, the Florida Panthers announced that they've signed Tim Thomas to a one-year contract. Oh, and he's playing tonight.

As a Bruins fan, I have all the feels right now. I'm so happy to see him back in the game, but still a little turned off and maybe even hurt by what transpired in 2012. I want to be angry at him, but I can't.

Some people think he's washed up, and will be out of shape from taking a year off, which is a pretty logical line of thought, especially in such a demanding sport. Make no mistake, though: Tim Thomas is a competitor. This guy is a two-time first team All Star. Thomas owns the record for the best single-season save percentage in the NHL. He won the Vezina Trophy, as well. He carried his team -- our team, the underdog -- to their first Stanley Cup in almost forty years, climbing out of a two game hole, and finished the postseason with a GAA under 2.00. He helped shut down the offensive juggernaut that was the 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks and did everything in his power to emerge a Stanley Cup Champion, and won a hard-earned Conn Smythe Trophy while doing so.

It wasn't always easy, though. His parents, like all hockey parents, sunk tons of time and money into the game. They sold their wedding rings so he could go to goalie camp. He was 20 years old and playing for UVM when he was drafted in 1994. Nineteen goalies were chosen ahead of him, when he was taken 217th overall by the Quebec Nordiques (best jerseys ever, aside from #TeamPooh, of course). Out of those nineteen other goaltenders, two were All Stars, and only seven ever played in the NHL. Timmy wasn't too far from being one of the ones who didn't make it. Thomas bounced back and forth from Finland to the IHL to the AHL before finally joining the Providence Bruins in 2002, and he didn't have a full-time role in Boston until the 2005-06 season, at age 31. This guy is no quitter. I don't think his return should be taken lightly - regardless of the team he joined, you know TT is coming to PLAY. I don't doubt for one second that he's kept in ridiculously good shape and that one of this main objectives is to prove everybody wrong. He's been doing it for years, it's his thing.

To paraphrase one of the best movies ever, Tim Thomas crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.

Welcome back, Timmy, and good luck.