Peter Chiarelli says that Thomas informed him he wouldn't attend the event months ago, citing political differences with Obama. Thomas is a conservative, and seems like a Tea Party conservative.
I'm sorry folks, but that's his right to not go. I personally would have gone, even though I'm a conservative too. I don't like Obama, but I don't hate him. And going to the White House and meeting the President would be a cool thing to do.
Then again, if I hated Obama and the Federal government, why would I want to go through the trouble of going through White House security, just to stand behind him as he made a speech and had a photo op? That doesn't sound like a fun afternoon if you really hate the guy.
I'm getting pissed off at people criticizing him over this.
"He put himself above the team."
"He disrespected the office of the Presidency."
I don't think he put himself or his politics above the team. It's not like Thomas refused to play a game because Obama was in attendance. He didn't go to a photo op in the White House. How does that hurt the team? I don't think his teammates are going to be pissed at him. I can't imagine Shawn Thornton staring angrily at him across the locker room, saying "We needed you yesterday, Timmy. Why weren't you there for us?"
Did he disrespect the Presidency? I guess he did. He certainly didn't show an overwhelming respect for the office. Then again, it doesn't seem like he has much love for any Federal office. And can you blame him? Are we happy with our government's performance this past decade?
Here's the statement he made about not attending the event:
"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"
You might disagree with his ideological beliefs. You might think that despite his feelings, he should have gone and been in the background of pictures of the President. But to lose respect for him because he exercised his right to free speech? That seems hyper-judgmental, and un-American.
Some people criticize athletes for not expressing their beliefs. Some criticize them for expressing them too much. Tim Tebow, for instance, was praised by millions for vocalizing his faith. He was also criticized by millions for doing so. But ultimately it's his right to say what he wants, how he wants to. It's a fundamentally important part of this country that we're free to express our beliefs.
Of course, that also means that people are free to express their dislike for what Thomas did. And I'm free to call them childish for doing so.
And if this becomes a distraction for the team, then they must not have been very focused to begin with. Knowing this team, they'll probably rally around Thomas and his right to express his political beliefs. The media has already tried turning this into a big deal, and that tends to galvanize teams, uniting them against a common outsider (the media), not dividing them.
I for one did not lose respect for Thomas yesterday. Because I don't care about his political beliefs, or how he expresses them. I don't know Tim Thomas personally, and don't care to. I like him because he's a good goalie. I respect him because as a good goalie. As for his politics, so long as he stops the puck, I don't give a fuck.
And to those who are criticizing his credentials as a teammate, all I can say is that videos speak louder than words. Here's him sticking up for Aaron Ward in 2009.
I'm pretty sure Thomas would have stuck up for Ward even if Ward had voted for Obama (of course Ward is Canadian so he probably didn't).
Tim Thomas didn't want to meet the President. Just because Obama is the President doesn't mean that people should accept every invitation he extends. Thomas doesn't like the Federal government in general, so why should he spend a day with the head of the government if he doesn't want to? This has become a much bigger deal than it really is. I think Obama has moved on and has other things to worry about. I think the Bruins are focused on their game in Washington tonight. The only people harping on this are the media looking to rake some muck, and judgmentalists who like saying what other people should and shouldn't do.