The firestorm started by Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas yesterday continues to burn, as angry Democrats are now speaking out about the snub.
Those criticizing Thomas for skipping the Bruins’ White House visit include former Massachusetts Democratic chairman Philip Johnston, who served under President Clinton.
“My advice to him is to stick to hockey,” Johnston told the Boston Herald. “I think Bruins players are taken seriously for their hockey, not for their politics.”
Also joining in was Kevin Franck, current spokesman and communications director for the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
“I think anyone who really cares about the lives, liberty and happiness of the American people wouldn’t miss an opportunity to shake the hand of the man who got [Osama] bin Laden,” he said.
Those in the pro-Thomas camp are pointing out the reigning Conn Smythe winner isn’t the first professional athlete to skip the celebratory garden party.
In 1996, Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura balked on meeting President Clinton; Steelers linebacker James Harrison skipped out in 2006 (President Bush) and 2009 (President Obama) and, most recently, former Bears lineman Dan Hampton opted not to attend the 25th anniversary of Chicago’s 1986 Super Bowl because he was “not a fan of the guy in the White House.”
Shortly after opting out of the Bruins’ celebratory White House visit, Stanley Cup playoffs MVP Tim Thomas posted an explanation for his absence on his official Facebook page:
I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.
This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.
Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.
This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic.
According to the Boston Herald, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said he discussed the White House visit for months with Thomas, but declined to reveal why the Conn Smythe-winning netminder opted not to attend.
Chiarelli also said Thomas could be suspended for not showing up for a team event, but will not be.
On Monday, the Boston Bruins will celebrate winning the 2011 Stanley Cup by visiting the White House and meeting with President Barack Obama.
It promises to be an exciting day for Bruins players, coaches and management, though it should be mentioned Lord Stanley’s Mug isn’t the only thing being celebrated. During the ceremonies, Obama will highlight the Boston Bruins Foundation, which has raised and donated more than $7 million to various charitable organizations in the six New England states.
The Bruins will be the third NHL team President Obama has welcomed to the White House since assuming office in 2009 — the others were the Penguins and Blackhawks — and the first Boston team hosted under his tenure. President Bush was still in office when the Celtics visited the White House after their NBA Championship in 2008.
In closing, we look forward to reading your “Did Lucic pass the security screening?” jokes in the comments section.