There were at least four television cameras all pointing at Tim Thomas in net during the Panthers' optional morning skate Thursday at T.D. Garden.

That was about all the zealous Boston media throng would see of Thomas, as Panthers coach Kevin Dineen spoiled the highly anticipated homecoming for the enigmatic goalie's first return to Beantown where he won two Vezina trophies while guiding the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011.

Although Thomas has had three straight hard practices, he remained on injured reserve because of a leg injury sustained during the Blackhawks' game on Oct. 22. Thomas was not made available to speak to the local media, who he had an on-again, off-again contentious relationship with ever since he chose not to attend the White House celebration of the team's title in Jan. 2011.

"There's still a lot of hockey left in this season,'' Dineen said. "When he comes back we want Tim feeling 100 percent, to be in it for the long haul. I know this is disappointing for him, but it's the best decision for him and the team. He's going to play a lot of hockey for us this year; unfortunately for us it won't be tonight in Boston.

"He's getting close. We want to keep building on that … so when he comes back he can play his usual game which is emotional; there's a lot of movement. We want to make sure he's playing at full guns.''