Here’s One Save Thomas Can’t Make
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.” ~ Warren Buffett
In a city consumed by sports excellence over the past decade we have become accustomed to fending off criticisms and low blows from fans and media in other markets. Yet we were ill-prepared yesterday when one of our hometown sports heroes, Bruins net minder Tim Thomas, delivered a cheap shot of his own.
By now you may have heard that Thomas declined to attend the ceremony at the White House hosted by President Obama to recognize the Bruins Stanley Cup Championship. In response to media inquires as to why he declined to attend, Thomas offered up this statement via his Facebook page:
"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"
It may be the only public statement he plans on making, but that will not keep the media from asking. Within 24 hours of the Patriots punching their ticket to another Super Bowl and the Bruins being honored by the President of the United States, all anyone was talking about was Thomas and his refusal to attend.
Headlines this morning from our two major newspapers in town read:
On a day for team, Thomas left them shorthanded ~ Kevin Paul DuPont, Boston Globe
Tim Thomas Told: ‘Stick to Hockey’ ~ Dave Wedge and Stephen Harris, Boston Herald
What I find particularly surprising is that Thomas, more than anyone perhaps in professional sports, should understand the value of a reputation built and earned. Here is a guy who toiled in anonymity for years in leagues and cities nobody has ever heard of before finally getting his chance.
Some may argue that this shows that Thomas is a man of principle. I for one believe that rings a little hollow. If Thomas felt this strongly about making a statement he had his chance two years ago to decline an invitation to play in the Olympics. Yet he chose to participate where there was opportunity for personal recognition and the potential to add to his trophy collection.
What makes hockey one of the truly great games is that it’s about 20 guys battling together and standing up for each other no matter what. It’s Shawn Thornton taking on all comers to defend his teammates. The fact that Thomas made such an emphatic point about an ‘INDIVIDUAL’ decision regarding a team event makes me think he doesn’t get it.
Hey Tim, think standing in front of an oncoming slap shot from an NHL defenseman is intimidating? How would you like to be Jeremy Jacobs or Cam Neely and have to stand in front of the leader of the free world and explain why the only American of consequence on the team (sorry Steve Kampfer) has decided not to come?
From comments made by Bruins management yesterday, it’s clear that these discussions have been going on for a while and that this was not a last minute decision. Given he had time to think it through; hopefully he considered the consequences as well.
As a goaltender, nobody can dispute that Tim Thomas has stood tall in the biggest moments. However, I hope he fully appreciates the fact that he put his team in a bad position. In hockey terms, he didn’t ‘Man Up’ and support his teammates, and that may be the most damming criticism of all.