Boston.com reports that the Bruins' goaltender failed to attend today's White House ceremony that honored the team's 2011 Stanley Cup championship. In doing so, Mr. Thomas left little doubt why he did.
Thomas has issued the following statement: "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 [ sic ] 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."Before anyone erupts in anger, please remember two things: First, the event was not mandatory (although it must be said that the other players were there). Second, Mr. Thomas absolutely has the right to make whatever legitimate political statement he wishes to make.
Yes, you might disagree with his actions (and I'm guessing if you do that you also disagree with his politics), but he did nothing illegal or immoral.
So, why do I think he'll face significant questions? First, the White House ceremony is not a political event; it is a public recognition of a team's success. However, Mr. Thomas made it a political event by speaking out as bluntly as he did.
Second, his failure to attend can be interpreted as an overt disrespect for the office of the presidency. Critics are likely to ask why Mr. Thomas openly broke with a tradition that symbolically supports the institution that is the White House.
Third, Mr. Thomas easily could become a distraction to a team positioned to finish the regular season with one of the National Hockey League's best records and to make another deep playoff run. Any controversy -- and, yes, the media can be good at creating one -- cannot be ignored by the other players and the coaches. However much they don't want to be part of something, they will be.
In the hierarchy of controversies, this is a minor one. I repeat, Mr. Thomas is not facing any legal scrutiny and his morals are not being questioned. Nevertheless, he should be asked additional questions about his decision and the words he used. Let's see if the media do their jobs in this situation.