Tim Thomas: Back in the Act


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.


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

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

BOSTON -- One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Much like Charlie Brown was never going to actually kick the football before Lucy pulled it away, it feels like the Bruins are never again going to beat the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. They failed again Saturday night, never holding a lead at any point as they dropped their ninth straight home game to the Habs, 4-2.

Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston have become the hockey version of 'Groundhog Day', as the same patterns emerge over and over again: Montreal's speed forces the Bruins into mistakes with the puck; Habs players draw the B’s into taking bad penalties; Carey Price dominates in goal. It's been that way ever since the last Bruin victory over Montreal at the Garden, on Jan. 12, 2012. To put it perspective, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin were still Bruins back then.

Saturday night's loss, though, had a little added twist: The B's second-period woes, such a problem last year, reared its ugly head again.

“[The second period was] terrible, and that’s where it really hurt us," said Claude Julien. "I thought we played well (in the first period) . . . But the second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end, and because of that, it gave them some momentum. And by the end of it, we cheated ourselves a little bit, and pucks ended up in the back of our net . . .

"[When] you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team. So we needed to be better . . . [We] shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes, and we can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens."

The Bruins were essentially done for after a couple of very typical Boston-Montreal plays went against them in the middle 20 minutes.

The first was a defensive coverage breakdown in the D-zone that allowed both Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher to operate with time and space. Five B’s players simply watched as Gallagher smoked a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that eluded Anton Khudobin.

Then, later in the period, John-Michael Liles misread a play where he pinched deep in the offensive zone and couldn’t control the puck. As a result, Alexander Radulov worked a 2-on-1 with Phillip Danault to skilled perfection on a typical Habs transition play.

"I think our second period has got to be better overall," said Patrice Bergeron. "We talked about them having a good forecheck . . . [but] we didn’t make the easy plays too many times. When you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to."

From there, it was just more of the same. Playing with the lead, Montreal was able to neutralize Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Bergeron never got a shot on goal. Price came up big when he had to, shutting down a couple of Ryan Spooner chances.

And Bruin weaknesses were exposed, things Julien and the coaching staff may have to address. It looks like it’s time to move on from the Joe Morrow/Torey Krug defense pairing; it's simply not working. (Krug, in particular, was a minus-3 and made mistakes all over the ice.) They also may need to switch things up with the forwards, as they're getting zippo offensively from their second and third lines.

To their credit, the Bruins never packed it in. They hung in and made plays in the third period to keep the game close, right up to the 6-on-3 advantage they had at the end. But there are no consolation prizes or moral victories in the Boston-Montreal rivalry, especially when the Habs have made it so one-sided.

To be a true rivalry, you need equal rivals. And the Bruins, especially at home, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.