SBD/January 25, 2012/Franchises

Bruins Withhold G Tim Thomas From Charity Event Following White House Snub

Thomas caught heat after declining to join his teammates at the White House
The Bruins "decided to withhold" G Tim Thomas from an afternoon charity appearance at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington "because his presence would have been a distraction," according to Fluto Shinzawa of the BOSTON GLOBE. For several months, Bruins personnel "ranging from owner Jeremy Jacobs to the rank-and-file players knew that Tim Thomas wasn’t planning to attend Monday’s ceremony at the White House." A team source said that Thomas’s actions "detracted from a day of celebration." Bruins coach Claude Julien said, "I think our group is all mature enough to look past that." Before last night’s game against the Capitals, Julien was "asked whether Thomas’s act of putting himself before the team would cause problems with his teammates." The coach replied, "I don’t think I want to stand here and answer these questions today when we’ve got Washington tonight. ... It’s unfortunate what happened yesterday. It’s the reality of the world. We’re a team thinking as a team right now." Shinzawa writes Thomas’ decision "may be the first step in goalie and team parting ways," as his "no-movement clause expires at the conclusion of this season" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/25). Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli acknowledged that the team "fully expected the storm of reaction that Thomas’ remarks about the size and reach of the federal government provoked." Chiarelli: "This didn’t just come across my desk last week. This has been three months. I wasn’t surprised (by the statement) because I know what Tim’s political beliefs are. That was entirely consistent with what Tim has told me his position was" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/25). However, ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said, "He’s really become a polarizing figure now, both locally and nationally. And I can tell you privately that there are members of his organization that are very disappointed that he chose to do this" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/24).

VOICING THEIR CRITICISM: In Arizona, Paola Boivin writes Thomas has the "right to skip a White House visit" and "I have the right to call him self-serving and misguided." Boivin: "I find his choice symptomatic of a nation that has allowed bad taste and disrespect to increasingly define who we are" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/25). In Montreal, Pat Hickey writes under the header, "White House Boycott Was Just Rude." Hickey: "As a believer in free speech and individual freedom, I have no choice but to defend Thomas's right to make his stand. As a believer in civility -- a virtue that is in decline in our society -- I see his boycott as an expression of bad manners. ... It's good to see Thomas paid attention in civics class, but you would think that somewhere along the line he would have learned some manners" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 1/25). An ARIZONA REPUBLIC editorial is write under the header, "Goalie's No-Show Was Disgraceful" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/25). In Montreal, Red Fisher writes under the header, "Thomas Put Himself Before His Team." Fisher: "His name is being mentioned everywhere today for all the wrong reasons" (Montreal GAZETTE, 1/25). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said, "You’re not supporting the President by going, you’re supporting your team. It’s a team event and he should be part of that” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 1/24).

GOOD INTENTIONS, FLAWED LOGIC?
In Toronto, Damien Cox wrote Thomas' decision, while "presented as somehow moral or above politics, was simply political in nature." Cox: "That's okay, too. He's entitled to that view in a democracy. But to present this as somehow a decision borne of a conscience is misleading." Cox continued, "Thomas, while a reasonably thoughtful athlete and quite likely well-meaning in his intent, simply got a little mixed up. He thought he was snubbing Obama, specifically, and the federal government, in general, but what he was really doing was snubbing the very Constitution he and his ilk insist only they understand and interpret correctly" (THESTAR.com, 1/24). In Boston, Ron Borges writes Thomas "broke no laws." He simply "exercised his constitutional right to free speech." Free speech is something "patriots like him like best about America." Borges: "What I wondered though was how come he didn’t say this when he actually had something to lose? How come when he had skin in the game he silently went off and represented the same United States in the most political arena in sports -- the Olympic Games?" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/25). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "I’m not the person to decide what the honor is for Tim Thomas, he gets to decide that. And he’s made a political stand here by turning what was an honor into an insult. He has insulted the office, insulted the President -- and if that’s how he wants to use his American rights, I’m glad he lives in this country” ("Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 1/24).

STICKING BY THEIR MAN: In Boston, Donna Goodison reports Arbella Insurance Group, which in November teammed with Thomas for an ad campaign that broke this month, "is backing the goalie." Thomas shot his “first television commercial for Arbella last month,” and the company said that the ad is “currently still in production.” His radio spots “already have been released.” The company in a statement said, “Tim’s political views and recent public comments have nothing to do with his relationship with Arbella.” Boston-based ML Strategies Senior VP Nancy Sterling said, “I don’t think it will hurt his long-term marketability unless he continues to pull similar stunts” (BOSTON HERALD, 1/25).
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