The Boston Bruins were at the White House on Monday afternoon, celebrating their 2011 Stanley Cup win with the President of the United States, Barack Obama. In his speech, the President personally noted the accomplishments of goaltender Tim Thomas, who put together the best statistical season by a goalie in NHL history during the B's Cup run.
Thomas wasn't there to hear the gesture, however. He skipped the visit, a decision that's apparently based on his political beliefs.
[ Update: Thomas explains his decision. ]
This isn't the first time this has happened. Five NASCAR drivers turned down President Obama's invite back in September due to "scheduling conflicts." Thomas doesn't have that excuse this time, as his entire team is in Washington to play the Capitals on Tuesday night.
The Bruins goaltender will apparently release a statement on his decision later Monday, but comments like this from team president Cam Neely make things pretty obvious. This was all about Thomas and his disagreements with the President on politics.
Thomas is a noted Republican, according to both CSN New England and NESN. One of his favorite television shows was the Glenn Beck Show, and he noted in the Bruins media guide this season that he'd really, really like to meet the right-wing talk show host.
There's nothing wrong with Thomas disagreeing with President Obama's politics. Roughly half the country feels the same way as he does. It's his right to believe anything he wants to believe, just as it's his right to refuse an invite from a President he disagrees with.
But just because it is his right doesn't make it right. It's an honor to meet the President of the United States in an official visit like this, no matter who sits in the Oval Office. Turning down the invite seems petty, and it shifts the focus away from the honor that's been bestowed on the team to one player's personal politics.