Still reeling from the cancellation of Seinfeld and looking forward to the release of Mulan (Disney, 1998) on this day in history, June 4th, 1998, the Edmonton Oilers signed goaltender Tim Thomas.
Fresh off his Finnish SM-Liiga championship winning performance with a shiny .947 save percentage, the Oilers had high hopes for Thomas. At the ripe age of 24-years-old, he was setting the world ablaze overseas and looked to be able to transform his numbers into North American success. Thomas would only start for the Oilers AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs fifteen times in the following year before he was returned to Finland and his former team HIFK. He would lead HIFK to another finals appearance, just coming up short against the champions TPS.
Thomas would go onto play a season in Detroit with the Vipers of the now-defunct IHL before being picked up by the Bruins. He would exact a bit of revenge in his first ever start at the NHL level in a game against the Oilers, a 4-3 win with 31 saves to show for his efforts.
Thomas would go onto win the Stanley Cup with those same Boston Bruins in 2011 and was named the Conn Smythe trophy in that same season. After another deep playoff run the following year, Thomas would announce on Facebook that he was taking a year off of hockey. His career never recovered.
Sometimes Oilers history is a strange place, isn’t it?