When I first heard of Tim Thomas purposely not attending the White House due to political beliefs, I thought it was indefensible, as I thought he was doing so because President Obama is a Democrat. Mr. Thomas is a vocal conservative, and I thought it was misplaced for him to shun the traditional White House visit for party affiliation reasons. It is important to remember that the White House is 'the people's house', regardless of the identity of the incumbent President, and I thought he had lost sight of that. I now know that Mr. Thomas' reasons are broader and more complex than this, so I am more lenient in my condemnation of his gesture, but I still condemn it.
Tim Thomas' statement explained his refusal to join his teammates due to a belief that the government of the United States is infringing the liberties guaranteed the American people by their Constitution. I find it hard to castigate someone who has deeply held political beliefs and acting on them in a consistent manner. I would be more confident if Mr. Thomas had abstained from visiting the White House if a Republican had been the sitting President. Also, I would feel better about this if Mr. Thomas wasn't a shill for credit card companies and Dunkin' Donuts, among others. How the corporate world, with its monopolistic practices, cavalier disregard for its employees' welfare and the communities they pillage, and the rapacious greed of its executive class, isn't more of a threat to the liberty and well-being of the American people is a difficult position to adopt.
When athletes such as Steve Nash and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf were vocal and acted upon their political beliefs I was supportive of their right to do so, probably because theirs more closely followed mine. So I'm trying to be even-handed when evaluating Mr. Thomas' actions. It's also hard for me to be objective about him since he is a Bruin, and because of his smug countenance when he's in net. He just rubs me the wrong way.
I dislike the way he carried himself at the 2011 All-Star game when Carey Price, an impressionable youngster, was trying to engage him in conversation during the draft. Mr. Thomas steadfastly refused to participate, or even make eye contact or acknowledge Carey, acting as if they were in church and he was trying to listen to the sermon. Later in the season, during a typical Bruins episode of thuggery and aggression in a game against the Canadiens, Mr. Thomas skated the length of the ice to engage Carey, but in a fistfight this time. Sure enough, after a couple of seconds of grappling with the bigger, younger, and stronger Canadiens goalie, he realized that he had bitten off way more than he could chew, and his deeply held personal convictions evaporated. He collapsed to the ice and turtled, and was an 'aw-shucks-no-hard-feelings' good guy when the refs had him separated and let him back up, now more than willing to ingratiate himself to Carey.
As will be discussed by NHL insiders, I believe Tim Thomas has hurt himself and the team with his actions today which will pigeon-hole him with extreme right-wing militia groups in the public's mind, and may roil the waters for the Bruins in the dressing room for a group that had been having relatively smooth sailing for the last while.