At the start of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the conversations about Tim Thomas should, in theory, center around his Conn Smythe performance in last season's Boston Bruins Cup run and his role in its defense this season. For the most part, they are.
But when you snubbed the White House during your team's Stanley Cup celebration with the president, and your first-round playoff series is in Washington D.C., well … check the 2-minute mark here:
That's Thomas, smiling and walking away from a press scrum after being asked "given the setting, that's it's in D.C., is there any concern on your part about the White House stuff getting kicked up and all that stuff."
Yeah, wow, quite the scathing ideological question there ...
I've defended Thomas's right as a Free Citizen (his term) to post his political beliefs on Facebook and to use the White House as a chance to make a political statement. I agree with Thomas that much of its impact, insofar as on the Bruins' dressing room or Thomas's own play, was media-driven and hyperbolic.
But this is ridiculous: Shutting down an interview for a legitimate, innocuously posed question about playing in a postseason series blocks away from the White House. Clearly, Thomas doesn't believe this political stuff has any place at the rink. Unless, of course, it's on the back of his own mask.
Thomas has used the back plate of his goalie mask for political statements before, like the "Don't Tread On Me" motif from earlier this season.
As Days of Y'Orr noted, Thomas swapped out that plate after the White House brouhaha in favor of this one, seen in March:
So now his mask features a Revolutionary War battle flag that honors the 13 colonies and features the phrase: "Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God", a quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson, inspired by clergyman Jonathan Mayhew, who also coined the "no taxation without representation" motto. (Dude had more catchphrases than a season of 'SNL'.)
The point isn't to debate the politics of Tim Thomas, because he's right: Who cares? It's what he believes, and he can choose to engage in those debates when he sees fit.
The point is that Thomas is trying to have it both ways: Advertising his beliefs on the ice, and then running away from even the most benign question about the White House situation in a series in Washington, D.C.
Example: If Marc-Andre Fleury engaged in Thomas's politics, only as a Quebec separatist, and showed up in Montreal for a playoff series with that movement's iconography on his mask, do you think he might be asked about it?
It's a unique situation. In theory, no one would even bring up the White House thing unless the Bruins were in clinching game in the Final — but in a series against Washington, it's expected. It's the first thing the majority of fans on social media mentioned when the seedings were set, making their "wonder if Obama finally shows up to a game?" quips.
The headlines yesterday were about Tim Thomas shutting down a question about the White House, thereby fueling that story for another news cycle — and, perhaps, giving the road team's fans a sense that it can be used to distract him.
Address it, say it's no big deal, move on. That's the speech Thomas should have engaged in.
s/t 'TreeMan' for the image.