The Cup travels to B-town

Over chants of “We got the cup” and “God bless you Tim,” UVM alum and Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas hoisted the Stanley Cup from the back of a convertible, giving his second hometown the ultimate reason to celebrate.

At the top of the same street he mingled on 20 years ago and in front of the church that gives it its name, Thomas spoke to a sea of children, adults and hungover students.

Stepping up with a trimmed beard and his signature hat, surrounded by his Essex native wife and kids, Tim’s words resonated down Burlington’s most popular and now most crowded walkway: “Thanks for welcoming me and making me a Vermonter.” And a Vermonter he is.

“I married into the Vermont family, so to speak,” Tim said at the press conference following his Alumni Achievement Award ceremony in the Davis Center.

Although Flint, Mich. is his true hometown, Thomas professed, “Burlington, over the course of my life, has become my hometown also.”

He spoke of how he loved Burlington and UVM as it was the place that not only enhanced his hockey career, but his life.

He met his wife at UVM and he even lived down the hall from Dirks Bentley who, Thomas said, they called “Tex” because he was from Texas and always carried around a guitar.

He was advised by Dr. Robert Tyzbir, who still helps him in the hockey camp that he hosts in South Burlington each year.

Thomas loves his college town and, as he confessed to the small gathering of reporters in the Sugar Maple Ballroom, “I enjoyed my cup party in Michigan, but probably the two funnest things I’ve experienced since winning the cup are the parade after we won in Boston and now this parade in Burlington.”

Thomas also had a lot to say about his former teammate, UVM alum and recent opponent from the Tampa Bay Lightning Martin St. Louis.

“[Marty] is a phenomenal person and a phenomenal athlete and it was tough to play against him after being his teammate.”

It was through being St. Louis’ teammate at UVM and being an athlete in the Catamount community from 1993-1997 that Tim said he gained the work ethic he needed to be the triple trophy winner he is today.

In other words, he is one of only two NHL goaltenders to win the Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe championship series MVP trophy and the top NHL goalie Vezina trophy all in one season.

“Through Marty I learned that you should constantly work on getting better.”

With a single season turnaround like that which Thomas just displayed, his work ethic is hard to challenge.

As he told a kid in his hockey camp recently who was distraught over giving up a game-changing goal, “You gotta get that picture out of your head. You need to see yourself making that save. Replace that negative image in your head with a positive one.”

That’s what Thomas did and that’s the lesson he said took him too long to figure out. So that’s what he tries to teach his campgoers, positivity.

It may be a while before Lord Stanley’s Cup parades up Church Street headed by three tame police officers and the lax security that can only be found in Vermont, but the Burlington community will never forget the words of thanks by UVM’s own Tim Thomas: “I became a man here in Vermont and I just really want to say thanks to all the people that have supported me and been behind me the whole time.”

Anytime, Tim.