Tim Thomas exercises his rights, but does he take it too far?

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What is missing from this picture of Obama with the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins? The answer, the team’s all star goalie: Tim Thomas.

The Bruins’ stand-out goalie decided not to go to the White House based on his political conviction that government is too large and is dysfunctional. Thomas went a step further and posted this on his 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. TT”

Is it just me or does this comment seem tremendously crafted? And what does it really mean for the Bruins and the NHL?

For the Bruins, Thomas’ political views completely overshadowed the purpose of visiting the White House. The White House trip was meant to honor the Stanley Cup Champions for their on-ice success as well as their extremely successful charitable endeavors off the ice. Does anyone hear about this in the news? No. What do we hear about? Tim Thomas trending on twitter. Thomas should have thought about the implications on his team before using social media to promote his own political views.

Although the goalie’s decision was not necessarily fan-friendly and was highly controversial, Tim Thomas is still allowed to “exercise his right as a Free Citizen” and make the choice not to attend the White House. Everyone is free to express their political beliefs in the US however, there is a difference between political viewpoints being pushed on and off the ice.

Thomas’ decision to not attend the White House might not be widely supported (especially for a visit that does not have to do with politics) but it is within his right to make that decision. On the other hand, the NHL should formally denounce Thomas’ helmet adorning the tea-party mantra, “Don’t Tread on Me”. Regardless of any personal political leanings, the idea of mixing hockey and politics on the ice seems wrong. Everyone comes together through sports regardless of politics, race, or creed. By letting an influential player like Tim Thomas get away with broadcasting his politics on the ice, we are damaging the all-encompassing community created in the hockey arena.

If all NHL players took the mindset of Tim Thomas, what would happen in the world of hockey? Would we see players with Presidential candidates’ names wrapped around their hockey sticks? What if the mic’d players in 24/7 decided to talk about their support of a bill right after they drew a penalty? Okay, this might be a bit extreme and insanely unlikely, but the NHL should issue some type of fine in order to separate on-ice hockey and personal viewpoints of the American government! They have a brand to protect so, what are they waiting for?