Tim Thomas sits out team visit to White House

Boston Bruins visit President ObamaI like Tim Thomas. He’s a passionate hockey player and has proven that he can lead the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship. I also like that we North Americans live in a society where we can (generally) have control of our own life and have the opportunity to choose whether we want to participate in an event or not.

When I read the article on Thomas choosing to not attend the photo op with the President due to his personal “opinions and political beliefs” according to team president Cam Neely, I first thought he was being petty. Why wouldn’t he show up to a non-partisan photo op? Each winning team in the major sports leagues does it, and on a smaller scale he’s creating a distraction that I’m sure his team could do without.

Looking online, fans on Thomas’s and the Boston Bruins‘ Facebook pages passionately share congrats with him or anger at his actions. Based on those updates, the boycott has polarized his fan base to the extreme. One such fan, an American living in Finland, wrote an open letter to Thomas about his actions. Here’s a paragraph that stood out:

“Today, i lost respect for you as a person. It’s not because we have different political views, because you have a right to your opinion, but because you couldn’t find it in yourself to be the bigger man and say “thank you” to someone you disagree with when all theyw ere tyring to do was a nice thing. It makes me question how you’d treat a fan, like me, if I wanted you’re autograph and I was wearing an Obama t-shirt.” [SIC]

As people formed their opinions about him, Thomas remained mum on the reason why he declined the offer. That is until about 6pm when he chose to explain himself via his Facebook page, well after the word started spreading. Here’s what he had to say:

Tim Thomas Facebook

As you can see, Thomas noted the boycott wasn’t based on politics or party, but as a criticism of the way government operates and treats Americans, as a whole. I have to admit I didn’t expect that, and was conflicted.

The vibe I get from his update is reminiscent of the ‘Occupy movement’, which I fully stand behind. Like many others, I was going on the angle that he was opposed to Obama’s administration, which he’s entitled to, but it also seemed like a petty reason to not attend the simple event. Even though I now understand why, I still feel he could have made the effort to show up for his team. There’s more he could do to protest government, with the platform he has.

One of the reasons I waited to post this is that I wanted to see what he had to say. I think he should have come out with his reasoning immediately because the speculative comments have tarnished the day for his teammates and himself. There were many terrible comments directed his way, but TSN’s Dave Hodge tweeted this libelous gem stood out the most because he basically calls Thomas a racist:

Twitter Dave HodgeIt’s a clear example of why you should hold off on your commentary until you have the facts, and in this case, Hodge should know better and not have tweeted that garbage at any time. A search for @TSNDaveHodge name on Twitter at least shows many are giving it to him good; let’s hope he apologizes to Thomas and his family.

As for Thomas, since it wasn’t a mandatory team event, he likely won’t be suspended for his actions, but I wonder if this will impact the way his teammates think of him? How did you feel about Tim Thomas’s decision to not show up at the White House, and once you knew why, did your opinion change?

2011 NHL playoff predictions: Final Round

NHL Playoffs 2011The NHL Playoffs are the most grueling in all of pro sports. There have been 16 teams competing for Lord Stanley’s mug, and only two have made it through the three rounds necessary to fight for it. With their win in game seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins will be the team heading to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Wednesday June 1. Although I picked the Lightning to win, Boston has clearly shown they have what it takes to compete, and it will be good to see an original six team in the finals against one from Canada; either way, the Stanley Cup is revisiting its roots.

This series will come down to the goalies and while Thomas is older, he’s held up pretty well and is still battling each night, including the 1-0 victory to take the series against Tampa. The Canucks have also had to rely on Roberto Luongo, he has shown these playoffs that he can handle the load and I don’t see why he can’t continue that. Hopefully a good omen, found while searching for a better Canucks photo, I came across this EA Sports NHL ’11 post on October 6, 2010 predicting Vancouver would win the President’s trophy and the Stanley Cup as well (albeit against the ill-fated Washington Capitals). Even without that EA prediction, I’ve picked the Canucks in each round and Boston in none, so I’ll have to stick with what has gotten me here and go with Vancouver to take it all in six games.

2011 NHL playoff predictions: Western and Eastern Conference Finals

NHL Playoffs 2011

The NHL Playoffs are now past the halfway point as we head into the Western and Eastern Conference Finals. The second round was a great one, though for the most part not as closely contested as the first, especially in the Eastern Conference. My predictions this time around were good with 3 out of 4 guessed correctly. Here is my 2nd round winners and losers, and below that, my 3rd round picks:

Called it: Vancouver (in 6), San Jose, Boston

Missed it: Tampa Bay

Western Conference

The Canucks managed to avoid another seven game series against the Nashville Predators and were able to put them out of their misery in six, but it was a hard-fought series against a team that never gave up and a goalie in Pekke Rinne that was tough to beat, game-in and game-out. This time around they will be going up against the San Jose Sharks who put away the Detroit Red Wings in seven, and look to be hitting their stride, finally shedding themselves of their own playoff curse. Both teams will bring it hard this series, but I think the Canucks will eke out a victory in 7.

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay Lightning

I went against the Lightning in the first two rounds, and they clearly made me look like a fool, so this time around against the Boston Bruins, I’ll take the youth over the no-quit attitude. Sure it would be great to see an original 6 team in the Stanley Cup Final but when I get the chance to boo a Northeast Division rival, I can’t pass that opportunity up. Bold, but Lightning in 5.

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