Originally written on Obsessed With Sports  |  Last updated 1/24/12

OTTAWA, ON - DECEMBER 21: Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on December 21, 2009 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

About 8 years ago, Curt Schilling decided to publicly back President Bush in his reelection campaign. Schilling quickly realized he wasn’t in the southwest anymore. The way many members of the Commonwealth saw Curt changed after this action. He became one of the more loathed athletes in the Boston area. But, was it because of his loud mouth? Or, was it due to what was coming out of that loud mouth?

Tim Thomas may be heading towards a similar fate in Boston. Thomas is a known Tea Party supporter. He even sports a themed mask at times. But Tim is in the heart of one of the more liberal states in the country. He also went to college at the University of Vermont. This means he should be no stranger to the popular political beliefs in the northeast.

Here is Thomas’ statement on the matter:

“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”

I’m not sure what type of vetting process the Facebook comments are being put through, but they are largely supportive. At least much more so that I would have thought. This is surprising and in stark contrast to the reaction Thomas is already seeing from the media and local fans.

The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont wrote this morning, “Shabby. Immature. Unprofessional. Self-centered. Bush league. Need I go on? All that and more applies to what Thomas did, on a day when Cup teammates Mark Recchi (now retired), Shane Hnidy (a radio guy these days in Winnipeg), and Tomas Kaberle (a member of some Original Six team in Canada), all gladly joined the red-white-blue-black-and-gold hugfest at the White House.”

The Boston Herald had a similar piece from Magery Eagan. She says, “The only thing I knew about Thomas until yesterday had to do with phenomenal hockey playing. Here’s what I suspect today: He’s a spoiled brat. It was just as bratty, embarrassing and classless…”

Not every writer completely bashes Thomas’ actions. Maybe my favorite NHL writer/blogger had one of the better takes on this topic. Greg Wyshynski wrote:

It’s the moment when Thomas will no doubt lose a lot of supporters, for sure, when they realize an athlete they celebrate has stark political differences than they have. He’s not the first nor the last athlete to choose not to visit the White House.

It’s a moment in which a professional athlete uses his fame, his influence for something he believes in, and does something that won’t be popular among fans or media. Sean Avery did the same thing: Potentially alienating his teammates by taking a political stand on gay marriage.

If he’s celebrated and Thomas is demonized, what does that say about our real tolerance of free speech? That it’s only free when we agree with it?

(And for the “separation of politics and hockey” crowd — that flies out the window when you agree to be a backdrop to a speech in an election year. Or any year.)

If I didn’t like the direction of the Federal government, I might go about voicing that opinion in a different way. However, that’s not the criticism you are hearing from the Boston media, nor many area fans. There is a notion that what Thomas did is somehow wrong. The Bruins were a part of a political speech yesterday. If an individual does not want to be a part of that, it’s hard to fault him. The specific actions are what could be critiqued by pundits. Not in Massachusetts, though. It’s the principals of Thomas that get the lashing.

If the current administration leaned a different way, the reaction from the media, and many fans, would be different. We are talking about the Commonwealth — I’m used to it now. It’s a fact, actually.

Specifically, the coverage was indeed different when Theo Esptein decided not to take the trip to the White House during Bush’s presidency. It was not covered with nearly this much vitriol. In fact, I can barely find any articles on the topic. The media gave Theo a wink and a nod that day. Thomas, on the other hand, is in for a far less supportive experience.

It’s free speech if the majority agrees; it’s self-serving if you are in the minority.

[via Tim Thomas Official Facebook Page]

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