An American friend suggested that Tim Thomas can expect to be audited after his decision not to join his Stanley Cup-winning teammates on their visit to the White House to be honoured by United States President Barack Obama on Monday.
My friend was joking, of course. But his amusing barb was exceedingly mild compared to most of the criticism directed towards the Conn Smythe Trophy winner after this sports-meets-politics flap erupted.
The Boston Bruins goalie was called an idiot for his extreme right political beliefs. He was chastised for putting himself above his teammates, above the Bruins organization and making himself the story on this day.
He was condemned for exploiting his team's visit to the White House to protest. He was called unpatriotic and un-American. He was even labelled a racist by a couple of media personalities.
Yes, slamming Thomas was "en vogue" and an easy path to travel down on Monday. He later provided an explanation for skipping the White House visit on Facebook, but the former Vezina Trophy winner's words only made the situation worse.
"I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People," Thomas wrote.
"This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.
"Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.
"This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT"
If it wasn't intended to be about politics or party, it sure appeared that was the case. Thomas, it turns out, leans so far right in his political beliefs that he supports the Tea Party and has made donations to an organization called Freedomworks, a group that opposes Obama at every turn.
Thomas, from Flint, Mich., was the only Bruins player who did not attend the White House event. Even Tomas Kaberle, who now plays for the Montreal Canadiens, was there.
"Everybody has their own opinions and political beliefs," Bruins president Cam Neely said. "He chose not to join us. We certainly would have liked to have him come and join us. But it's his choice. It's obviously not a choice most of the guys -- well, all of the guys came except for Tim. But it's his decision and his choice."
Should we at least respect Thomas for making this choice? It is, after all, his right and I admire a person who stands up for his beliefs, even if I strongly disagree with the timing of this action. Why not just suck it up, join your teammates and move on?
We wonder how much this episode will tarnish Thomas and his wonderful underdog story? Can we separate on ice from off ice? He went from being a ninth-round selection in 1994 to waiting until 2005 to become a full-time NHLer to a Vezina Trophy winner, a Stanley Cup champ and a playoff MVP.
Now everywhere the 37-year-old goalie goes he'll be labelled that loon who protested his team's White House visit. Can the Bruins even start Thomas in Washington against the Capitals on Tuesday? What kind of a reaction will he get in Ottawa from the fans and the media on all-star weekend?
Just wondering if down the road Thomas still will believe standing up for his political convictions in this manner was worth it.
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