Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson’s hard work on the ice this past season is paying off. He signed a seven-year contract extension worth $50 million this week.
The 24-year-old was a key piece in the Sabres’ rebuilding efforts this past season, when he posted numerous career highs — 38 goals (25 on home ice) and 30 assists for 68 points in 78 games played. His previous bests for a season were eight goals, six assists, 14 points and 65 games played.
“This is a place I want to be at for a very long time,” Thompson told the media at the end of the season. “I want to be a guy that helps this team win and make the playoffs and win a Stanley Cup, and obviously those are all just words and you’ve got to put that into action.”
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“Tage Thompson embodies the pride we expect from every player who wears the Buffalo Sabres sweater,” general manager Kevyn Adams said in a news release. “His success last season is a testament to his unrelenting dedication to his craft and commitment to bettering the team both on and off the ice, which we believe will help us reach even greater heights moving forward.”
Thompson started his NHL career in 2016 as the first-round pick for the St. Louis Blues. After just 41 games with the Blues in 2017-18, he was traded to Buffalo, with which he appeared in 65 games in 2018-19. A shoulder injury that eventually required surgery kept him out of all but one game in 2019-20, and he played in just 38 games in 2020-21 before the breakout year this past season.
Throughout Thompson’s hockey career, he has leaned on his faith in God and trusted in His plan. He grew up in a hockey family, which moved to 11 different NHL or AHL cities as his dad, Brent, played 15 seasons as a professional (including 121 NHL games). Brent and his wife, Kim, raised Tage and his younger brother, Tyce (now playing in the AHL), with Christian values, but Tage says faith became important to him while they were in Alaska.
“It wasn’t until I moved to Alaska that I gave my life to Christ and actually understood the relationship that you make and that you grow between yourself and the Lord,” Thompson said in a 2018 interview with Hockey Ministries.
One of Thompson’s teammates in Alaska helped him come to know the Lord. His friend’s father was a pastor and helped Thompson learn what it means to be a follower of Christ and grow in his faith. While living in Alaska, Thompson suffered a knee injury, which marked a turning point for him and his relationship with Christ.
“You realize that you’re not in control of anything really, that everything happens for a reason, and that God is there and that He’s the only one that can get you out of tough situations,” Thompson told A Lamp Unto My Cleats in 2019. “So, once I realized that, and just kind of gave it all to Him, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I had no more worries about the injury and I just kind of let everything go and He took care of the rest.”
Thompson hangs the words of Jeremiah 29:11 — “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” — in his stall in the locker room, reminding him to trust in God’s plan.
“This verse is my favorite because for me it’s so easy to get caught up in my own plans and what I want and what I hope to happen in my career and life, that I forget who’s really in control,” Thompson told A Lamp Unto My Cleats. “When I look back at this verse, it gives me peace knowing that God’s in control and that He has great things in store for me if I just let go and put all my trust in Him. I never have to worry or stress because God is always faithful, all I have to do is trust His plan that He has for me.”
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God’s plan has Thompson — who also became a father this summer — in Buffalo for the foreseeable future. He hopes to get the Sabres back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
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