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News

Honoring Beezer

Newest Panther netminder Tim Thomas chose the number of a guy he grew up watching, former Panther John Vanbiesbrouck.

Friday, 10.04.2013 / 3:30 PM / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Honoring Beezer
Newest Panther netminder Tim Thomas chose the number of a guy he grew up watching, former Panther John Vanbiesbrouck.
Tim Thomas chose No. 34 in honor of former Panther John Vanbiesbrouck (Getty Images)

20 years after the introduction of the franchise, a No. 34 is once again gracing the Panthers crease.

Signed to a one-year contract last Thursday after going through camp on a PTO, veteran net minder Tim Thomas selected No. 34 as the number he'll don and it's all in honor of the Panthers first netminder, John Vanbiesbrouck.

"Growing up, John Vanbiesbrouck was one of the guys that I looked up to," said Thomas on the goaltender who was selected with the Panthers first pick in the 1993 Expansion Draft. "Especially being a fellow American and he's from Michigan."

The two Panthers No. 34's have crossed paths before, most recently going on a celebrity pheasant hunt in South Dakota as part of a USA Hockey fundraiser during the NHL Lockout last year.

The connections started much, much earlier however. Vanbiesbrouck was born in Detroit, MI while Thomas was born about an hour northwest in Flint, MI. It was at a young age, that the current Panthers netminder first came across Vanbiesbrouck who was in his early NHL career with the New York Rangers.

"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."

Thomas said that the first time he met Vanbiesbrouck was actually when the first No. 34 was with the Panthers and Thomas was in college. ‘Beezer’ was with Florida from 1993-98 while Thomas attended the University of Vermont from 1993-97.

For the now 39-year old, Thomas sees some similarities in their style of play. Both players have had their detractors yet chiseled out successful NHL careers.

"He was a smaller guy. I'm not necessarily as small as him but I've had to battle through people's opinions of my style and he had his own unique style that I watched," said Thomas. "I see similarities in that quarter."

And while he can't recall any specific games that stand out of the Beezer, he does remember the netminder and right before puck drop.

"I even remember how he was during national anthems," said Thomas. "He had the feet moving all the time. I'm not like that. I stand still but still it's the little things like that."

He, like most other hockey enthusiasts, does remember that Panthers magical year of 1995-96.

"Definitely watched him, specially that year that they made the run and I watched it a lot," said Thomas.

That year, that's what Thomas is looking to help the Panthers recapture. It's something that he wouldn't want any more, especially during the special 20th Anniversary season.

"When he was here, the Panthers had the best season that they've had in the history of the organization," said Thomas. "I'm going to try and pick up where he left off."

And that started off on the right track as Thomas stopped 25 of 27 shots to lead the Panthers to an opening night win over the Stars.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 46 16 13 -1 29
A. Ekblad 46 7 21 6 28
J. Huberdeau 43 9 17 1 26
J. Jokinen 45 4 21 -3 25
B. Boyes 44 10 12 2 22
J. Hayes 38 13 7 1 20
S. Bergenheim 35 8 9 2 17
A. Barkov 35 5 10 -5 15
B. Campbell 46 3 11 -1 14
D. Kulikov 41 1 13 -3 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 18 11 8 .920 2.42
A. Montoya 3 4 2 .891 2.96
 
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