The 2011 Stanley Cup winning Boston Bruins visited the White House today—or should I say most of the team visited the White House today. Missing from the ceremony was Bruins goaltender and 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas, one of only two Americans that played on the Cup-winning team.
When asked why Thomas did not attend, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told Boston.com, “We're like a family. We have our issues. You deal with them, move on, and try and support everyone.”
Thomas' statement about why he did not attend was released on NHL.com:
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
Thomas has every right to not attend the event; no one can or should argue that point. With that being said, by not attending the ceremony, he made himself bigger than the team and that is something that should not have been permitted.
Something that Chiarelli acknowledged he could have done, “I can require someone to attend a team event. If they don't, I can suspend him,” the GM told Boston.com. “I'm not suspending Tim. Whatever his position is, it isn't reflective of the Boston Bruins nor my own. But I'm not suspending him."
The story coming out of this should have been that the Boston Bruins, like many championship teams before them, attended a ceremony at the White House with President Barack Obama.
Instead, the story is Tim Thomas refused to attend a ceremony at the White House. By shifting the attention onto himself Thomas’ action was a disservice to the teammates he lifted the Stanley Cup with.
No one is saying that Thomas cannot exercise his right to speak his mind outside of a team function, but when his actions take the focus away from his teammates and place them squarely on him, that’s selfish behavior that should not be tolerated from any athlete, no matter which side of the political fence they stand on.