Hockey’s culture of conformity took a hit Monday when Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas snubbed an invitation from the Obama White House, declining to visit the President during his annual meeting with the NHL’s reigning Stanley Cup Champion.
One of only three Americans on the Bruins roster,* Thomas is one of the sport’s biggest stars. Thomas, from Flint, Michigan, is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner (2008-09 and 2010-11) as the league’s best goaltender, also a Stanley Cup Champion and Conn Smythe Trophy winner as most valuable player in the playoffs (both 2010-11). He has represented his country in six world championships and won a Silver Medal at the 2010 Olympics. He is featured in a very funny Visa commercial during which an obsessed Boston cabbie worships his photo, but fails to recognize him in person.
She’ll recognize him now, alright.
Jack Edwards, the TV voice of the Bruins on NESN, told FrontPage that Thomas is a patriotic American, but whether this is the right platform for Thomas’ politics remains to be seen.
“There’s no doubt Tim knew what he was doing,” Edwards told Frontpage, noting that the meeting with Obama comes just one day prior to the Bruins’ visit to Washington, DC for a game in Obama’s backyard, against the Capitals.
His teammates will respect and support his right to speak, says Edwards, but with the Bruins heading into the second half of the season as one of the league’s better clubs, the defending champions don’t need a distraction.
“This will surely create a firestorm, a media circus,” Edwards said. “And the thing that concerns me as someone who follows the Bruins closely is that this could be to the detriment of the team.”
Sources tell Frontpage that Thomas made the decision to reject the White House invite over a month ago.
“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,” team President and former player Cam Neely said in a statement that served to distance the club from the politics behind the remark, without chastising its number one goaltender.
No different from any other major pro sports, the NHL doesn’t involve itself in political issues. It serves too broad a community and alienating half the political aisle would be unwise.
The only initiative in which the league is involved that hints at ideology is its “NHL Green” program, focused on recycling and sustainability alongside the Natural Resources Defense Council. The program buys in with the fashionable notion of man-made global warming, a viewpoint accepted by so many that it seems almost apolitical to most—but not to Thomas and many of his fellow conservatives (not to mention hundreds of scientists).
Sources tell Frontpage that inside the Bruins’ locker room, Thomas has engaged in friendly debates on global warming with defenseman Andrew Ference, who is actively involved with NHL Green. The program offers NHL players an opportunity to purchase carbon credits, purportedly to offset the emissions from their travel over the course of the season. Thomas does not purchase carbon credits.
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