Raised in Davison, Michigan, Thomas played college hockey for the University of Vermont for four years, from 1993–1997, during which he was drafted 217th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He played for several years in the minor leagues and Europe, before making it to the NHL at age 28, with the Boston Bruins. He finally emerged as the Bruins' starting goaltender at age 32. Thomas is a two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy (2009 and2011) as the league's best goaltender, and was a member of Team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophyas the most valuable player in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. He became the oldest player in league history to win the Conn Smythe at age 37. He is the second of four American-born players to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in NHL history, after Brian Leetch and before Jonathan Quick and Patrick Kane.