Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas made waves when he skipped the White House ceremony yesterday honoring the 2010-2011 Stanley Cup champions. Thomas made the following statement to explain 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 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
Bruins President (and former Bruins legend) Cam Neely released a statement on behalf of the Bruins which said in part, "We are disappointed that Tim chose not to join us, and his views certainly do not reflect those of the Jacobs family or the Bruins organization."
The absence of Thomas was significant for two reasons. First, Thomas is no bit player. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy which is essentially the equivalent of being Stanley Cup MVP. Second, the NHL is largely populated by Canadians, Russians and Eastern Europeans and Scandinavians. In fact, of the 690 players currently on NHL rosters, only 162 were born in the United States. Despite the fact that 23 of the 30 NHL teams are based in the United States, only 23% of the players are American. The New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres have the most Americans on their roster with nine apiece while the Phoenix Coyotes, the Florida Panthers, and yes, the Bruins have only two Americans on each of their rosters. Tonight, the Bruins face the Washington Capitals (which is as much as any reason why the Bruins visited the White House yesterday) and they only have three Americans on their roster.
Not surprisingly, Thomas is being criticized in some quarters and even been absurdly accused of hating our troops. Yet Red Sox principal owner John Henry along with former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, both of whom supported and campaigned for John Kerry in the 2004 election, were excused without fanfare for not attending a White House ceremony with President Bush when the Sox won their second World Series in 2007.
It is worth noting that Thomas said "this was not about politics or party." O.K., let's suppose the Bruins repeat as Stanley Cup champions in June (certainly a possibility) and President Obama is defeated by one of the Republicans hopefuls in November (also a distinct possibility.) If Thomas were to decline to attend a ceremony presided by a Republican President I doubt we would hear a negative word from liberal circles. In fact, I suspect they would praise him for his consistency, if not his courage.
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