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

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.