Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas, who had been using a nondescript white helmet with his new team, finally got his cage painted. The image, released by the Panthers via Instagram is a shout out (intentional or not) to the former Panthers goalie who led the team in its only memorable season in 20 years of existence.
And, in case you forgot, here is Vanbiesbrouck during the Glory Days.
‘Beezer’ was one of the goalie’s Thomas looked up to when he was growing up. And when Thomas signed a contract with the Panthers this season, he settled on No. 34 because that’s the number Vanbiesbrouck used to wear.
Both Vanbiesbrouck and Thomas are Michigan natives, with the former coming out of Detroit and the latter about an hour away in Flint.
From the Florida Panthers website in early October:
“When I was 10 years old, I lived down the street from his parents in Detroit,” said Thomas. “I saw him out running and training a couple of times in the summer. So obviously I followed his career.”
This season marks 18 years since the Panthers run to the final, which was spearheaded by Vanbiesbrouck’s spectacular play. Thomas has led his own charge to the Cup final before, with the Boston Bruins, and some thought he’d be able to provide a lift to a listless Panthers team. Though not quite a Beezer-level lift.
But so far this season, Thomas has struggled with groin injuries and has played only six games, posting a .905 save percentage and 3.11 GAA.
Thomas is currently on the injured reserve, so we won’t see the Beezer look in action for a little while yet.
Thomas doesn’t use the conventional cage most goalies use and neither did Vanbiesbrouck, which made this so much easier to pull off. What do you think of Thomas’ nod to Vanbiesbrouck?