I'm an American. I like to consider myself more liberal than most of my countrymen. But, I also recognize that there are going to be people that disagree with me about my social and political beliefs. I just want to go on record and say that I believe this is a good thing. We need contention in society, or else nothing can be addressed and improved or fixed.
Along those lines, I respect the fact that Tim Thomas has a point of view. As an American, he has every right to believe anything he wants. He also has the same right I do to shout those beliefs to the rooftops without any cajoling from anyone. As an individual, he has that right in America.
As a teammate, however, I could not disrespect Tim Thomas any more than I do now. My hockey resume may not be as accomplished as his, but I picked up the notion that if I was part of a team, the team comes first. Isn't that why we demonized guys like Terrell Owens and their "Pass Me The Ball" mentality? Except, Tim Thomas takes it a step beyond just giving him the ball.
Since 1991, the Stanley Cup Champions have always been invited to the White House to visit with the President of the United States. Not once do I recall a player refusing to go. Tim Thomas did refuse to go on the grounds of his political differences with the Obama Administration. As an individual, I respect his decision to not visit the White House on moral grounds, regardless of whether I agree with Mr. Thomas or not (which I do not). But Tim Thomas was not invited to the White House. The Boston Bruins, his team, was invited to the White House. Mr. Thomas wasn't asked to come to Washington for political reasons. He, and his teammates were asked to the White House for the same, simple reason that every Stanley Cup winning team has been invited to the White House since 1991: the won the Stanley Cup. No political conotations whatsoever.
That was a year ago. Wounds heal, and people forget (or don't care). Now, Mr. Thomas, who I will think of as the T.O. of the NHL, left the Bruins to focus more on the three F's: Family, Friends, and Faith. Once again, I must compartmentalize my outrage a bit. As an individual, if I had to choose between my job and my family, friends, or faith, I would choose the latter every time and never look back. I doubt Mr. Thomas was put to such an ultimatum. But, as a member of a team, he once again put himself and his beliefs above the team.
I'm not suggesting that Tuuka Rask can't be an elite NHL goaltender. As a matter of fact, I think Rask will rebound from last season's injury problems towards the end of the season and do just fine as the starter for the Bruins. It's just a matter of principle, which is all Tim Thomas seems to be talking about these days.
Now, that Tim Thomas is officially retired from the NHL, or until he decides to go to Facebook for whatever impromptu announcement he deems valid, he should be fair game for all those who disagree with him. Here's hoping the "Daily Show with Jon Stewart" or the "Rachel Maddow Show" take this baton and run with it for just a a little bit.