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Why do we still care what Tim Thomas is complaining about on Facebook?

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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On January 6, 2012, weeks before he unofficially became a political pundit, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas went on his Facebook page and wrote the following:

My generation and my social class grew up in a world where our Dads slept with their door open so if they heard anyone come into the house they could protect their family. But as adults, it was safe enough that you could not have to worry that much. At least where I've lived.

But it's getting more dangerous. If you pay attention to the news you can see the young people of this next generation. The schools and universities and media (and parents) have raised this next generation differently and they don't see America as we do. In their minds America is bad. Just what I see going on in the world.

It's verbiage straight out of the Glenn Beck playbook: "His" America vs. the unpatriotic, bastardized nation being corrupted by the media and college professors and other liberal sleeper agents. It was completely in keeping with the other "inspirational" quotes on Thomas's Facebook wall, ranging from Ronald Reagan tributes to warnings from John Adams about the perils of democracy.

It was a Facebook post that had 26 "likes" and five comments, a paltry sum when you consider his latest missive has 495 "likes" and close to 200 comments after being posted at around 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

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This is what happens when your political statement/publicity stunt — snubbing the White House when the Bruins went to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship last month — garners unprecedented attention: Previous statements that passed by without incident become well-read and newsworthy, while also being widely condemned.

Thus proving Tim Thomas correct in his assessment of this tempest in a Tea Party; why are we still paying attention anyway?

The crux of this new statement, one assumes, would be the Catholic Church's reaction to the Obama Administration's mandate that health insurances plans must cover contraceptives for women free of charge. The church wanted an exception for insurance provided to employees of Catholic hospitals, colleges and charities. The White House has thus far declined.

It's not the first time since the Free Citizen statement that Thomas opined on his Facebook page. On January 27, four days after his snub of the White House, Thomas returned to thank his supporters and quote JFK and Ron Paul. On January 30, Thomas had another quote of the day from John Adams.

Neither gained much attention outside of his Facebook audience.

Also, neither contained references to Catholics (!) and oppression (!!) Jews (!!!) and Nazis (!!!!!!!).

Which brings us to today's coverage.

The Facebook story was picked up Deadspin, and then begrudgingly by NBC, and then WEEI and the Boston Herald and NESN ("When Tim Thomas speaks, everyone seems to listen -- but that's not to say everyone agrees with what they hear.") and then the National Post and the Vancouver Sun, which wrote that Thomas is "back blasting Barack Obama" even though Thomas never blasted Obama to begin with.

(Don't worry, The Sun fleshed out its reporting with some tweets, including from the insultingly labeled "self-proclaimed hockey humour blogger Sean McIndoe." For shame, VanSun: We proclaim he is as well.)

Now, let's dial it back: Why was Tim Thomas's snub of the White House news?

Was it because of his political differences with the current administration? His disdain for the direction of the country? His awkward capitalization on Facebook declarations of faith?

No. It was news because it may have embarrassed his employer, an NHL team, and affected his relationship with his teammates on the Boston Bruins. It was a hockey story.

Now, does this latest missive tie in to that larger narrative? Sure. Is it a hockey story? Not unless the media is contorting it into one. And that was Thomas's point back in Ottawa.

When asked at the All-Star Game if he felt this story would "go away," Thomas said:

"Ah … I think it should. I think it should. Why? Because it's all media driven right now. It has been from the start."

"And everything I said and did was as an individual, not as a representative of the Boston Bruins. All it has to do is with me, but it's separate from hockey. That's my personal life. Those are my personal views. Those are my personal beliefs. It has nothing to do with hockey. It has nothing to do with this All-Star Game. And it has nothing to do with the Boston Bruins."

There's a difference between addressing Thomas's politics with the appropriate amount of ridicule and comedy, and treating this stuff as newsworthy. It's not. It's a pro athlete spewing the same ideology he has spewed before, during and after the White House snub on his own Facebook page. Not in the dressing room. Not on Boston sports radio. Not on Fox News. On a place you actually have to make an effort to find in order to be outraged by his comments.

It becomes news if a sponsor drops him. It becomes news if a teammate — not an anonymous team executive who may or may not have appeared in Jim Carrey movie — tells the Boston Globe that Thomas's politics are hurting the Bruins. It becomes news if the NHL or the Bruins step in and try to muzzle him.

Absent that, this latest dust-up is exactly what Thomas labeled it: Media-driven, having as much to do with hockey as Joe The Plumber's comments had to do with septic tank removal. Why should we care?

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