Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas makes a save against the Carolina Hurricanes in the first period during Game 2 of an NHL hockey Eastern Conference semifinal series Sunday, May 3, 2009, in Boston. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Charles Krupa)
LAS VEGAS - Tim Thomas has truly received his due.
The Boston Bruins goaltender was awarded the Vezina Trophy on Thursday, beating out Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild in voting by the NHL's 30 general managers.
The honour is especially meaningful to Thomas because it was only a few years ago that he figured his dream of playing in the NHL was dead. He never minds hearing about his rags-to-riches journey.
"It doesn't bother me that other people talk about it," said Thomas. "I'm 35 (years old). At 31, I was thinking to myself that I'm going to be playing in Finland for the rest of my career. This is a long way from where I was. ...
"This is a totally different level that I've been able to reach."
Thomas and partner Manny Fernandez also shared the Jennings Trophy after helping the Bruins post the lowest goals-against average in the NHL.
It was a good season in Beantown.
Thomas led the NHL in goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.933) while posting a career-high 36 wins. The 35-year-old also signed a US$20-million, four-year contract extension that kicks in this summer.
All and all, it's pretty impressive stuff for a guy drafted 217th overall who had three different stints in the Finnish league.
Mason has certainly forged a different path.
The 21-year-old took over the starting job with the Columbus Blue Jackets in his rookie season and led the franchise to its first ever playoff berth. He led the league with 10 shutouts.
Backstrom was among the NHL leaders in goals-against average (2.33) and save percentage (.923), setting a franchise record with 37 wins.
Thomas was the tops among his peers and seemed to be a little surprised by how far he's come.
"It's phenomenal to be in the same room as these guys," said Thomas.