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Panthers G Thomas says he "came here to play"

The SportsXchange

Tim Thomas said he and Jacob Markstrom can coexist as goalies for the Florida Panthers this season, but Thomas made it clear he wants to be the starter.

"I definitely came here to play,'' Thomas said Tuesday in his first session with the media after agreeing to a profession tryout with the Panthers on Monday. "I'm competing against myself, and if I play the best that I can, then I'm going to get the results that I want and the playing time that I want. ... We're pulling for each other and only thinking about the best we can be as individuals. ...We're on the same team and we have the same goals."

Thomas, 39, sat out last season and has not played since 2011-2012.

Markstrom played well in Monday's preseason opener and is not conceding the starting job to Thomas.

"This is the best league in the world and it's not supposed to be easy,'' Markstrom said, according to the Miami Herald. "It will be a fun experience. I'm excited. Competition is part of the game. I still want to play most of the games. My goals haven't changed.''

Thomas is scheduled to fly with the team to Texas for its preseason games against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday and Friday, but he is not expected to play in those games. He may not play in Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning either.

Thomas said he is eager to get back in the game.

"I have a new found appreciation to being able to play the game at this level and being part of a team again,'' said Thomas, who has not played in an NHL game for anyone other than the Bruins. "My time in Boston was great, I was very fortunate to have the personal and team success I did. I had great teammates .... This is a new start. I'm excited about the future.''

Thomas said he began working out in July.

If Thomas earns a contract with the Panthers - which is believed to be a foregone conclusion -- he would like to help the team compete for a playoff spot.

He said the Panthers are "on the verge of a turnaround and a big bounce back."
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