Were hockey writers always this lazy? Or are tired punchlines and trite narratives the only way to make a Florida Panthers game remotely appealing?

There’s a good chance you have seen plenty of stories surrounding veteran goaltender Tim Thomas’ first game facing his former Boston Bruins, who he backstopped in 2011 to its first Stanley Cup in 39 years, before taking a year off from hockey two seasons later. Below is, more or less, a rough template for just about every Tim Thomas column that has emerged since then.

  1. New, relevant piece of Tim Thomas news.
  2. Paragraph detailing Obama snub and subsequent fall from grace.
  3. “Three F’s” (Very important).
  4. “Something something bunker in Colorado.”
  5. “Will he be able to compete at 39 after a year off?”
  6. Fin.

This formulaic laziness has insidiously shaped the way Boston fans view Tim Thomas. That’s a shame.

At the heart of it, Thomas’ gripes were never with the fans. And yet, the fans feel so thoroughly wronged that Thomas wished to take some time off from hockey after playing his heart out to not only make it to the show, but dominate it, paving the way for a yet another championship caliber goaltender in Tuukka Rask. This makes little sense. Hell, Ted Williams openly hated Red Sox fans, and he’s still as revered as ever.

No, it was the ownership with whom Thomas chafed. Following trade rumors implicating him and Philadelphia, Thomas angrily stripped all traces of black and gold from his helmet and pads. The White House incident only exacerbated the strains that already existed. Someone with an origin story like Thomas should be revered here. It’s a rags-to-riches story borne of a Bruce Springsteen song. A University of Vermont Catamount from Flint, Mich. bounces around Scandinavian leagues, eventually earning a spot in Providence, working his way to starting duties in Boston. What’s not to love? Besides, you know, the conservative extremism.

If you proudly wear any 2011 Stanley Cup Champions merchandise, you have no license to bash Tim Thomas. He was the embodiment of that team, the gritty cardiac kids who made Game 7 triumphs seem like a routine affair, so much so that when the Los Angeles Kings did the same schtick the following season, it wasn’t nearly as impressive. Bruins fans should view Tim Thomas much like Drew Bledsoe. It’s a shame you left the way you did, but look what came next.

I almost hope Thomas delivers a shutout against his former team. Nothing against the Bruins themselves. But perhaps it will wake up the legions of fans guffawing over his Facebook statuses and bunkers full of pinto beans dreamed up by bored beat writers, and make them realize just how much Flint’s favorite son gave to this franchise: Banner No. 6.

Photo by Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports