Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tim Thomas


For those of you unfamiliar with Tim Thomas, let me just start by saying he's the poster boy for overachievers. Too small, too unorthodox, too old, Thomas was passed over by many National Hockey League teams and had to make it back the hard way. Fast forward to the 2010-2011 NHL season and Thomas not only led the Boston Bruins to their first Stanley Cup championship in 39 years, he won the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender and the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP for the Stanley Cup playoffs that year.

Amazing story. In fact you can certainly make the claim that without Thomas, the Bruins don't win the Cup that year.

This past season, as is customary for championship teams, the Bruins were invited to the White House to meet President Barack Obama. Notably absent was Tim Thomas. Then the rumblings began. And got louder.

“[Expletive] selfish [expletive],’’ one team source said.

Thomas at first refused to speak about the subject, then released a statement on Facebook saying he did not want to attend because of his feelings about the government.:

“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 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”

OK, let's stop right here.

There was a great hue and cry about Thomas' decision not to attend.
Many felt he should have put the team first and I completely understand that line of thought.
However, if a person has strong convictions about something, anything, I firmly believe we should respect those convictions however we feel about whatever guns said person decides to stick to. Provided the actions and consequences of their beliefs are not harmful to others.

There is plenty of precedent about athletes and management, including former Boston Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein skipping the White House visit in 2008 because of his 'family reasons. Not much was made about Epstein's decision at the time, but more than plenty was said about Thomas'.

I'm sorry, but for those of you who lean to the left, generally the media does as well. People who lean left don't see mainstream media coverage as an issue and but loathe outlets such as Fox News and Oh how they hate the latter.

Either way, I supported Thomas' decision then and also support any others who have and will due to their beliefs or convictions regardless of mine. That is the essence of our democracy. You can choose to snub the President of The United States of America no matter who it is if you choose and there will be no ramifications unless you make threats. You won't be exiled or thrown in jail or punished in any way. You will be tried in the court of public opinion which is fair game no matter which side of the fence you sit.

Fair enough.

I supported Thomas' White House snub not because of his political beliefs, but because he has his convictions and he chose to stick by them. Many people have fought and died for Mr. Thomas and all of us here in America to be able to make such decisions. Right or wrong, whether you and I agree or disagree, that is what freedom and democracy are all about.

That said, if it were me, I would have gone to the White House. Personally, I think that President Obama is not a good president, but I still would have gone. And again, for those of who who lean left, I thought George W. Bush wasn't a good president either. My wife can verify that I thought Obama was going to be a good president when he first took office. I voted for John McCain because I thought he was a better candidate and still do. I wonder what would have been if McCain had won. Please spare the me Sarah Palin crap, Joe Biden is just as bad. And once again, full disclosure, I thought then (and still do) that Palin was and is intellectually vacant.

Thomas also raised eyebrows with a subsequent statement on Facebook about the controversy with organizations being required to provide medical benefits for contraception regardless of the institution's religious beliefs.

Now, let's get to the latest.with Mr. Thomas.

First, the news crept out that he abruptly moved his family from north of Boston to Colorado during the 2012-2012 season.

Then the bombshell was announced that he is mulling sitting out the 2012-2013 season.


Thomas has 1 year remaining on his contract with the Bruins. He is 38 years old. He is still considered to be one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. 38 years old is getting up there for a goaltender, but there are many who have played at a high level at that age and beyond. You need to look no further than the current Stanley Cup Finals between the Los Angeles Kings  and the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are backstopped by  what many consider to be the greatest NHL goaltender of all time, Martin Brodeur, who recently turned 40.

Thomas' announcement effectively ended his career with the Bruins.
And the consequences of this announcement creates a domino affect that is troubling in a variety of ways.

First, all NHL GMs are aware that the Bruins are now dealing from what was a position of great strength to one of great disadvantage:

1. If Boston decides to deal Thomas, no GM in their right mind will pay top dollar for a now disgruntled 38 year old. They know the Bruins have to do something.

2. If the Bruins decide to let Thomas sit out the season, they do not get any relief on the salary cap for his 4 million dollar salary. That is a big chunk of change in the NHL. And with the NHL's collective bargaining agreement deadline looming on September 1, there may be clouds on that horizon with the Player Association. They are now headed by none other than Donald Fehr. The same guy who had a major hand in creating the mess called Major League Baseball with its union and the over inflated salaries paid to its players.

3. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who has been Thomas' backup, at age 24 is more than ready and capable to step up and bear the load of a starting goaltender in the NHL. Problem is, Rask is a restricted free agent which means he now has more leverage given Thomas' intentions. Rask is sitting in a nice postion right now.

There were rumblings at the time of the White House incident that Bruins management was less than thrilled with Thomas's decision. At the time, I thought that they should just respect his decision and move on and not make a big deal out of it. After all, he wasn't the first and he certainly won't be the last. That's where I think this fell apart. I think Thomas is a person who has his convictions and feels very strongly about them. If you look at the chain of events given Thomas' personality it's all starting to make sense.

Now that it's known that Thomas moved his family from the Boston area to Colorado during the season, it does look likely that there were hard feelings between Thomas and the team. He has school age kids, I believe that they have 3 kids. I don't know about you, but that's a tough decision to make to uproot your wife and kids and move them 2000 miles away during the school year. That's not a decision that you make hastily which appears to be the case.

Now, with this news, Thomas has completely screwed the Bruins which is indefensible. If he wanted out, there are better ways to make that happen. To say he's going to sit out the season to spend time with his family is irresponsible as a professional. I don't buy it one bit that this is about spending time with the family. I believe this is about revenge.

Revenge for not supporting him publicly for his White House snub.

The shame of this all is that it could have been handled better by both sides. Thomas chose to be obtuse and make vague statements to the press and on Facebook, The Bruins should have publicly and privately dismissed the incident as minor and moved on. Since they didn't and Thomas sees himself as a man of great conviction, he felt slighted.

All that said, he is the one that is dead wrong here, not Bruins management. This is no way to right whatever wrongs he feels were done. He should have confronted both GM Peter Chiarelli  and team President Cam Neely and let them know how he felt. My guess is that would have gone a long way to resolving whatever ill feelings Thomas had.

Now, this situation has reached the no turning back point for both sides. Thomas will not relent and will not play for the Bruins next year. This puts them in the position to let him sit, suspend him for the season, or see if there's a market for him which still doesn't guarantee he plays for another team.

Bad move Tim Thomas. I can't back you on this one.

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