It has become a tradition for teams that win their championships to have a visit to the White House,
and Yesterday January 23rd the Boston Bruins had their trip to the White House, after winning the Stanley Cup. But the 2011 Stanley Cup winning Bruins were missing a key member of their team, the guy who practically put the team on his back during the finals; Conn Smythe winning goalie Tim Thomas. I really didn't understand this move, this was one of the last opportunities for the entire Stanley Cup winning team to be all together; Kaberle flew in from Montreal, retired Bruin Mark Recchi, Shane Hnindy and Steven Kampfer were all in attendance despite no longer being a part of the Bruins. But Thomas one of 2 American born players from the 2011 championship team, was no where to be found. Thomas released a statement on Facebook, explaining his absence;
"I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People. 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 is about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL. This is the only public statement I will make on this topic. TT"
Now Thomas had every right no to attend the trip to the White House, you can't argue that, and I don't have a problem with him voicing his opinion on politics. But here's where he messed up; Tim Thomas whether he meant to or not, he made himself bigger than his teammates, something that you should never do in professional sports, a choice Thomas never should have been allowed to make. The Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli acknowledged the fact that he could have forced Thomas to show up, but didn't, he also won't be suspending the Bruins goaltender. The reason I believe Thomas was not forced to show up, is because of how much he means to this team. A team is going to let their star players get away with stuff, Thomas is a veteran, and a grown man with his own opinions he can do as he pleases. But what Thomas ultimately did, was overshadow the Boston Bruins trip to the White House; For his teammates, it's not about the amazing once in a lifetime chance to tour the White House and shake the presidents hand, it's now about why didn't Tim Thomas show up. By not showing up, Thomas moved the attention from his teammates to himself, instead of celebrating with his teammates after winning the Stanley Cup it became all about Tim Thomas.
Now I give Thomas full props for standing up for what he believes, and have the courage to do so, despite the public backlash he would have received. BUT when the President of the United States gives you a personal invitation, to come to the White House and meet him you go, no matter what your political or personal beliefs are. There is no act of a political party or stand it is simply a matter of congratulations from the highest most important person in America. You go, smile and have a great time with your teammates, you don't sit at home and sulk. Tim Thomas picked the wrong time/moment to voice his opinion, any other time this would have been perfectly fine, heck he could even join one of those protests that happen outside the White House every other day. But Thomas' team was being honoured by the president, Obama even put a special mention of Tim Thomas in his speech. The timing and the way Thomas approached this couldn't have been worse, he completely took the attention away from the Bruins and put it on himself, a very selfish act. You were invited to the White House to be congratulated for athletics, not to debate politics.
Thomas should have shown up and shown some respect for the President of the United States, your organisation and your teammates. Not to mention the fact he represented the United Stares at the 2010 Olympics. To me this was a classless act from a very classy guy. Thomas better pick up his game and return to the level he was performing at when he won the Cup, or it's going to be an extremely long season in Boston. I'll post a video at the bottom that includes the presidents speech to the Boston Bruins.