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BOSTON (CBS) – It was June 15, 2011, and like every hockey fan in Boston and New England, nothing else mattered.
After 39 long years, the Boston Bruins had captured the Stanley Cup. Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, and we all thought nothing could take that great feeling of pride and glory away from what that Bruins TEAM had accomplished.
Fast forward to Jan. 23, 2012, the annual invite of the Cup-winning team to the White House, and EVERY Bruins player made the trip to Washington except the MVP goaltender. The snub left us all wondering why a supposed TEAM player would not accompany his mates to what was to be a mostly obligatory, but honored tradition.
Thomas posted on his Facebook page back then (who knew he had one before this?), “I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People….”
Well, after several more posts, questions from the media, his “Peace out,” see ya later attitude, and a first-round exit from the playoffs, there is no question it is “all about Tim” and to hell with the TEAM. Thomas has decided to put a noose around his team’s neck (again via Facebook) with his decision to sit out next season.
The 38-year-old says it’s time “to reconnect with the three F’s. Friends, Family, and Faith.”
On the surface, that statement says it all and is to be commended. After all, as my good friend Gil Santos always says, sports is the toy department of life. But since sports is also big business now, does he think he doesn’t owe something to the people who pay his salary? Or to the fans that supported him, and still support him no matter what the reason, as long as there is a reasonable explanation?
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“Sitting out” the season is not retiring. Does he plan on playing in the 2013-2014 season? Should the Bruins put all their forward thinking into waiting for him to make a definitive decision? The bottom line is no matter what we as fans think, what we have known since January, and really not before, is that Tim Thomas is an individual and doesn’t play by anyone else’s rules but his own.
And that’s fine. I really don’t care what athletes do in their private lives. I’ve never been starstruck like that. I marvel at their talents and what they provide for the teams I root for.
For two months at the end of the 2010-11 regular season, Tim Thomas took us on a spectacular roller-coaster ride through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was all about the TEAM that had so many key moments by key players — Michael Ryder’s save in Game 5 and OT goal of the Habs series. Zdeno Chara’s skate block in the same series, all of Nathan Horton’s game-winning goals, the pairing of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the list goes on. But it was the sliding pad save in overtime against Brian Gionta, the reach back stick save on Steve Downie “that would not go,” and the shutout to seal the Cup that I will never forget. All of those were provided by Tim Thomas.
I wish this had all come to a better end, instead of some fans thinking Tim Thomas is a lunatic while others applaud what he is doing. I do hope someday that Thomas will return to the TD Garden when the Bruins will make it HIS night — in which all of his famous accomplishments will be acknowledged. Tim Thomas will forever live in the hearts of many fans for what he accomplished and how he accomplished it during his pro career. I can’t speak for his life personally — as no one but he and his family know about that — and that is fine with me.
Just know that for me, as a lifetime Bruins fan, I will never forget Wednesday night, June 15, 2011.