Tim Thomas made a point of ending his statement about skipping the White House with the emphatic point he was finished talking about it.
Good luck with that.
The 37-year-old netminder has been in the middle of a mediapolitical firestorm over the last three days after choosing an individual political decision over joining the rest of his teammates in Washington D.C.
Thomas strong desire to publicly express his Tea Party sensibilities kept him away from President Obamas White House on Monday afternoon, and that allowed the Vezina Trophy winner to stay true to his conservative beliefs.
The move was admirable on the level of standing up for ones belief system. That, after all, is what freedom is all about.
But it was also inherently selfish, given the predictable way it overshadowed that days celebration of the Bruins' Cup championship. Thomas has been painted in the past as a me-first guy, and there were big elements of that in deciding to go rogue while the rest of his teammates were with the President.
The Bruins knew about Thomas decision for months, but didnt announce it beforehand. They didnt want to compromise the enjoyment level of all the otherplayers visiting the White House by worrying about Thomas political inactivity.
The same line of thinking kept Thomas away from the Washington D.C. Boys and Girls club event on late Monday afternoon following the White House visit, and pushed the Bruins to request Thomas hold off on any Facebook message until the days events were over. The team seemed to have a good grasp on the major ripples Thomas choice would create across the waters of sports, government and all forms of news across North America. But one has to wonder if Thomas an intelligent if unsophisticated sort sometimes unsure of himself and reticentin the public eye truly understood how much chatter and vitriol his absence would generate. He finallyseemed to understand all this as he retreated into a side room following Tuesdays game against the Capitals, and avoided actually speaking about his choice.
But Thomas cant duck reporters forever.
Its been split 5050 pretty evenly between eye-rolling exasperation and unfettered support for the Bruins goalie, and that isnt likely to change given the half-and-half political split around the country. But tons of questions remain unanswered after Thomas short statement from Monday night:
Why did Thomas choose this moment to reveal his personal political beliefs in a very public way?
Why did Thomas feel it was okay to represent a broken government on Team USA during the Olympics, but then refuse to go to the White House?
Why not go to the White House and engage President Obama in a discussion about his governmental concerns?
How about attending the event and using it as a platform to publicly state his beliefs and concerns about the direction of the U.S. government?
Was he concerned about the backlash, and did he truly consider the distraction he could be creating with his personal decision at a team event?
Was he worried that his actions might embarrass the organization, and did he consider it could hasten his departure from Boston if ownership and management felt it was a disrespectful enough action?
Those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questions about his decision. The entire subject isnt going to go away for Thomas or the Bruins until he properly addresses it. The murkiness and uncertainty surrounding Thomas silence in the days since his White House absence have only encouraged the speculation and spit-balling when it comes to the Bs goaltender.That's a shame for the best goaltender in the world and the B'sStanley Cup hero.
The only way to end it is to face things head on and finally answer all of the questions once and for all. If Thomas is as proud and resolute in his beliefs as he purports to be, it shouldnt be a problem to use the media as a conduit to millions of inquiring hockey fans. Public Relations 101 explains it all: Answer questions honestly and openly and most controversies tend to fade away.
Thomas hasnt done that and he owes his teammates, an entire country of proud Americans and perhaps even the President of the United States more of an explanation than a post that somebody can give a thumbs up to on Facebook.
While the Bruins players simply roll their eyes and go on with their day -- as theyve always done with Thomas politics over the last five years -- its not the same thing with those higher in the organization. Bruins management and ownership are steamed at the goaltender for taking the spotlight away from the team on a day that should have been a crowning moment. It could become Thomas swan song with the organization if the home crowds at TD Garden begin turning on him, or if he slumps under the additional pressure brought upon by playing alchemist while mixing politics with sports.
He also runs the risk of turning the NHL All-Star game into a political spectacle given the large number of national hockey media descending upon Ottawa this weekend for the All-Star festivities.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli freely admitted Thomas could have a challenging time attempting to fend off a throng of reporters looking to corner him for a one-on-Tim interview. With an event as meaningless as the NHL All-Star game, the Thomas story has the kind of legs that many will be chasing after.
Im not going to regulate free speech, said Chiarelli, who confirmed he spoke with Thomas several times imploring him to change his mind about his White House absence. Tim is his own person. Hes been that way for the five or six years that Ive known him. That hasnt changed and it wont change. We won a Stanley Cup and were doing well this year. This is something Ive known about for three months. I know what his beliefs are and his political position is.
Its highly doubtful a large group of reporters from all over the world are going to gladly take a no comment from Thomas if tries to sidestep things when it comes to his political position.
That would be a mistake because the questions will keep popping up every day until he decides to talk. It would be a shame if the Bruins are brought down this season by Thomas solitary stance, or if things eventually facilitate the goalies exit from Boston.
One has to wonder if theres any regret in the mind of Thomas after his irreversible decision. One will continue to wonder about that until Thomas opens up his mouth and begins addressing something that could become career-altering if he doesnt do something about it.