MONTREAL - As Tim Thomas, the last Bruin off the Bell Centre ice after yesterday's morning skate, made his way to the dressing room, he looked up in the stands and spotted general manager Peter Chiarelli giving him a thumbs-up.
It was then that Thomas learned he was headed to Atlanta.
Thomas yesterday was named an All-Star Game replacement for New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, who withdrew because of a family obligation, according to the Associated Press. The game is Sunday at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
"It feels great," said the 33-year-old Thomas, a first-time All-Star. "I was really disappointed when I didn't get named. Now that I have been named, I'm excited."
Despite missing six games with a groin strain, Thomas has been one of the NHL's sharpest netminders, posting one shutout and allowing just one goal in 11 other games.
Thomas, who allowed four goals on 17 shots in 40 minutes of play last night, entered the game as the league leader in save percentage (.930) and was eighth in goals-against average (2.30). Those numbers fell to .927 and 2.38.
Thomas will join two teammates - Zdeno Chara and fellow first-timer Marc Savard - on the East squad. Milan Lucic also will be in Atlanta to compete in Saturday's YoungStars game.
When Thomas wasn't originally named when rosters were announced Jan. 11, he made plans to take his daughter Kiley to New York this weekend, promising her shopping trips to FAO Schwarz and American Girl. Thomas isn't sure who will accompany him to Atlanta - each player is allowed to bring two guests free of charge - but he already has informed Kiley there is a nice aquarium in town.
"I think it's something you'll be able to look back on for the rest of your life," said Thomas. "My brother said today, 'When you're 70, you can say you played in an NHL All-Star Game.' I said, 'Yeah, if I can remember it by then.'
"It's quite a feather in anybody's cap."
Alberts 'a mystery'From what the Bruins understand, the head injury Andrew Alberts absorbed in a Nov. 26 win over Philadelphia wasn't as severe as the one Patrice Bergeron suffered Oct. 27 against the same club.
But today, nearly two months after Philadelphia forward Scott Hartnell pasted Alberts's head into the boards, the defenseman is in the same position as Bergeron. Out indefinitely.
Alberts's symptoms had lessened to the point where he could stretch and ride the stationary bike last week. But Alberts has been shut down because of recurring headaches. Chiarelli does not have a timetable on Alberts's return.
"That one's a mystery," said Chiarelli. "When it happened, he had no other symptoms other than the headaches that were localized. It might have happened at a later point in another game. He might have had those localized headaches, then he might have had a concussion. But he can't remember anything that might have knocked him around in subsequent games."
After the Hartnell hit, Alberts reported headaches, blurred vision, and dizziness. But he passed the tests - exertion, baseline, neuro-psych - that are required of players with head injuries, an indication he had not suffered a concussion. At the time, Alberts said his head hurt at the location where it banged into the boards.
Alberts played in the next 10 games, logging 20-plus minutes in seven. He played his last game Dec. 15 against Columbus. Alberts missed his 16th straight match last night.
Chiarelli acknowledged Alberts might have played with a concussion during the 10-game stretch after the Hartnell hit. When asked in hindsight if Alberts should have sat out, Chiarelli said yes, although emphasizing the club didn't know he had a concussion.
Things that go bumpPhil Kessel appeared to injure his wrist during a second-period collision with defenseman Francis Bouillon, and he headed to the dressing room at 3:17. But he returned later in the period and played a total of 15:37 . . . Two Newfoundland natives played last night: Boston's Pascal Pelletier (Labrador City) and Montreal forward Michael Ryder (Bonavista). By Pelletier's estimation, there is only one other Newfie currently in the NHL: San Jose forward Ryan Clowe (Fermeuse).
Delay the reactionDuring the upcoming GM meetings, Chiarelli and several of his counterparts are planning a presentation to suggest the implementation of a waiting period on disciplinary judgments when hits result in concussions. In the cases involving Alberts and Bergeron, Hartnell and defenseman Randy Jones were given two-game suspensions by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.
Chiarelli's proposal is that the NHL delay its judgment until teams with the injured players can determine how much time they might miss.
"At least you could delay the suspension until you get clear medical facts," said Chiarelli. "They try and do that, but I think with concussions, you have to be a little more diligent."
Under such a proposal, the Bruins might have determined that Alberts and Bergeron would be sidelined indefinitely because of the hits, resulting in longer suspensions for Hartnell and Jones.