When Tim Thomas declined to accompany the Bruins to the White House, he was quick to assure everyone that "this was not about politics." Well, guess what Tim, now it's about something even more important: hockey.
The Boston Globe paints a picture of a team that was never very fond of Thomas in the first place. He's depicted as standoffish, mostly friendless, and possessed of certain beliefs that he feels particularly strong about.
Or, "[expletive] selfish [expletive]," as one team source tells the Globe. That's another way to put it.
Supposedly Bruins management had their concerns about Thomas when he briefly lost the starting job, and about what kind of teammate he would be. With his no-trade clause up after this season, and Tuukka Rask more than ready, the Globe offers that this White House snub may be the first step toward the end of the line for Thomas in Boston. And considering most of the grumbling in the story comes from front-office sources, it's safe to say that "Timmy's on his way out" is the official-unofficial company line.
Athletes skipping out on White House visits is nothing new, but then Tim Thomas is no garden-variety NASCAR conservative. His statement, harping on the Constitution and Founding Fathers and creepily capitalizing "Free Citizen," points to a fringe-libertarian bent. Think Ron Paul and Ayn Rand and the wingnutty Sovereign Citizen movement.
"He's the kind of strain where you actually do stop and reconsider what you think about him," one hockey writer tells me. "This is the kind that sends you freaky email forwards."
Thomas is more than entitled to pass on the White House ritual—as Charlie Pierce reminds us, the best protest is still Villanova guard Gary McLain's putting a line up his nose before hanging out with Ronald Reagan—and there's something chilling about the Bruins using his politics as an excuse to send him packing. But I have to admit: It's a little fun watching his wackadoodle chickens come home to stupidly roost. The Bruins are a private organization, and Thomas seems like the sort of guy who believes the best way to handle big companies is to let them do whatever they want. I'm pretty sure the Austrian School of economics would recommend cutting ties with your attention-grabbing, $5 million-a-year, 37-year-old goaltender and moving on to the quieter, younger, at least equally talented Finn on the bench.