Tim Thomas: Back in the Act

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Tim Thomas: Back in the Act

Theres no way to discuss what happened with Tim Thomas without pissing a few people off. In fact, there are probably a handful of people reading this who are already mad. (If youre one of them, I hereby challenge you to a Facebook debate. Today at high noon. Caps lock only)

Yeah, stuff like this always breeds craziness. On both sides. A lightning rod like Thomas unleashes some sort of virtual bomb and like clockwork, everyone freaks out. A few minutes later, were arguing back and forth about things that may or may not have happened 5,000 years ago (and will never be resolved). A few minutes later, total chaos.

Of course, thats what Tim Thomas wants.

Is there any other explanation? Regardless of whether you agree with what he said, theres no doubt that he intended to make a scene. He knew hed be back in the news. He knew people would write these columns. Its obvious that he just wants some attention.

(Thats one major drawback to sports in the Internet age. Its way too easy for needy athletes to get noticed. Thirty years ago, Thomas would have had to send out 50,000 Stand With Chik-fil-A post cards. By the time they arrived, everyone would have forgotten that the story ever happened.)

Im not saying that attention is his only motivation, though. Its entirely possible that Thomas Facebook post is a genuine act of faith. That he truly believes that the legalization of gay marriage will be the cause of our societys eternity in hell, and that its his duty to spread the truth and save the world.

If so, thats fine. Even if you dont agree with what he said, you have to believe in his right to say it.

Lastly, I havent ruled out the possibility that Thomas is just screwing with all of us right now. Its still so hard to believe that a guy who grew up in the same town as Michael Moore and went to college at UVM turned into such a staunch conservative. I think its just as likely that he and one of his old stoner buddies from Burlington are shacked up in Colorado and pulling the strings on a massive social experiment. Like Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix.

But maybe thats a little unrealistic.

Either way, from a sports perspective, the underlying theme in all this is that Tim Thomas has lost a ton of fans this year. There are also a lot of people who are now even bigger fans. But they're not the story. The story is that this guy, who was once universally considered a hero a living legend is now the most polarizing, and in many ways, (with apologies to Josh Beckett) the most hated athlete in recent Boston sports history. And Thomas doesnt seem to care. At this point, hed rather be known for his beliefs than for his ability to play hockey.

In a way, thats refreshing. Its nice to see a guy seek a higher calling, and realize that some things are more important than sports.

I just wish he wasnt so selective.

Its like, if youre going to use your celebrityFacebook page to sound off against injustice and the casualties of the world, thats fine. If you really want to stand against gay marriage? I don't get it, but thats totally up to you. But my question is: Where have you been for the last month? Why not use your platform to take a stand against child rape? Why not stand with the families of the 12 people who were gunned down at a movie theater in your new home state of Colorado? You're worried about hell? What about the people whose lives have been transformed into a living hell?

Of course, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Does anything that Tim Thomas says whether it's "Down with Sandusky!"or "I stand with Chik-fil-A!" really matter? He doesn't play in Boston anymore. He doesn't even play hockey anymore. Every time he signs on Facebook it becomes less likely that he'll ever play hockey again. He's just a guy with an opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. And maybe it's time we just start treating him like that.

If you disagree, you know where to find me.

FACEBOOK. HIGH NOON. BRING YOUR EXCLAMATION POINTS.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Julien reaches breaking point with struggling, inconsistent Bruins

Julien reaches breaking point with struggling, inconsistent Bruins

It sounds like Claude Julien has reached a breaking point with a fragile, inconsistent group of Bruins players who have lost four games in a row at a critical point in the season.

The Bruins dropped a 5-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday afternoon, and completely fell apart in the final period after Tuukka Rask was lifted because of migraine issues in the middle of the game. It was a typical Bruins effort, in which there weren’t enough scoring chances despite 45 shots on net -- largely from the perimeter -- and the defense totally unraveled in the third period once the Penguins got their offense going.

After the loss, the embattled Julien challenged his players, saying they weren’t providing enough across the board . . . which has largely been the case for the last two months as the Bruins have stagnated as a team.

“If you look at some of the mistakes we made, it’s a team that just got unraveled there in the third period,” he told reporters after the game. “With the opportunities that we had, we don’t capitalize on them. You always give the goaltender on the other side some (Matt Murray) credit. He was good tonight but at the same time, if you’re going to win hockey games, you’ve got to find ways to get [shots] through to him.

"It’s frustrating. There are a lot of guys that, right now, aren’t giving us enough, and this is a team that I think needs all 20 guys going in order to win. We don’t have enough talent to think that we can get away with a mediocre game, so this is where it’s important for our guys to understand that and it’s important to have 20 guys that want to go. It’s okay to have talent, but you’ve got to compete. For others, you’ve got to get involved. You’ve got to be willing to do the things that are not fun to do but are going to help your hockey club. It’s too bad because I think the players we expect a lot out of every night are certainly battling every night, but we need more than that . . .

“When you’ve lost three, now four in a row, it sets in. We’ve got to find a way to turn this around and start going back to the drawing board with our guys respecting what they need to do and be patient enough to give it time to turn around. When I say patience I don’t mean we need to do it in the next week. We need to do it next game but we need to respect what we’ve done well and when we’re in our game and within our structure we’ve had success but in order to be within the structure, you’ve got to be willing to want to do those things. Right now, we don’t have everybody and it just takes one guy not to want to do his job and it throws everybody else off. We have to look at personnel that way, and say that if we need to replace some guys, and we need to be patient with others, I want guys that care and want guys that want to come in and give it their all every night. We need more of that, and we don’t have enough right now.”

It remains to be seen what, or who, Julien is referring to when he mentioned personnel during his postgame comments, but it’s clear he's well aware the effort hasn’t been consistently good enough over the last two months.
 
The Bruins have dropped to third in the Atlantic Division, with the Maple Leafs just a point behind them while holding a whopping six games in hand. Even struggling teams like the Panthers, Lightning and Hurricanes have caught up to the B’s in the playoff race, while holding games in hand.

The B’s are in big, big trouble at this point in the season, and it doesn’t get any easier with games against an improving Red Wings club and the dominant Penguins prior to a much-needed break recess for the All-Star break.