Haggerty: Timmy needs to talk

653050.jpg

Haggerty: Timmy needs to talk

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.

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

bruins_islanders_riley_nash_2_032517.jpg

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

bruins_anton_khudobin_032517.jpg

Anton Khudobin battles for a huge win filling in for Tuukka Rask

BROOKLYN, NY – Things didn’t go so well last season for the Bruins when Tuukka Rask suddenly wasn’t well enough to play in the last game of the season, so there was good reason for the B’s to be a little nervous when their No. 1 goalie again couldn’t answer the bell Saturday night vs. the Islanders.

Anton Khudobin had won four games in a row headed into Saturday night, of course, and in his previous start he’d helped snap a 10-game winning streak for the Calgary Flames. So perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising when Khudobin stood tall for the Bruins making 18 saves in a tight, nervy 2-1 win over the Isles at the Barclays Center.

“You don’t have that many shots, but maybe 10 scoring chances…that can be tougher than seeing 30 shots and same amount of scoring chances,” said Khudobin. “But I’m glad got the job done, we got our points and we got the ‘W’.”

It wasn’t wall-to-wall action in a game where both teams combined for 37 shots on net, but it was still impressive that Khudobin and the B’s special teams killed off six Islander power plays in such a tight hockey game. After the B’s backup netminder was lauded for the way he battled in the crease and competed for pucks like his team’s very life was on the line in a pivotal game.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard, and fighting that hard to see pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Bruce Cassidy. “I loved his performance. He’s a battler. He got swimming a couple of times, but that’s Dobby. He keeps it interesting for you. He’s a battler and he always has been. That’s what we needed tonight.”

One could spend days analyzing Cassidy's words and wondering much of that was deserved, appreciative praise for Khudobin, and how much of that might have been a veiled message to Boston's No. 1 goaltender sitting back home in Boston. 

The best save of the night probably won’t even count as a save for the Russian netminder. It was John Tavares, after having beaten Khudobin once in the first period, moving into the offensive zone with speed during a third period power play, and getting an open look at the net front in the high slot. Khudobin thought quickly and dropped into the unconventional double-stack pad save that seemed to throw Tavares off just a little, and the Isles sniper smoked the shot off the crossbar rather than tying up the game.

“I didn’t touch it. I didn’t really have time to get there, so the only thing I tried to do was the two-pad stack, old school Bob Essensa-style,” said Khudobin, who has now improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.60 goals against and an .899 save percentage this season. “Then he hit the crossbar. You need to get some luck in this league, and if you don’t get luck you’re going to lose games.”

A little luck and a little good, old-fashioned battling between the pipes was enough for Khudobin and the Bruins in Saturday night’s mammoth win. Now the questions become whether or not to go right back to Khudobin again on Tuesday at home against the Nashville Predators.