Goalie Tim Thomas un-friended the Bruins on Facebook Sunday.
Before you start feeling the hate, watch this:
Here's some of what Thomas wrote:
"At the age of 38, I believe it is time to put my time and energies into those areas and relationships that I have neglected. That is why at this time I feel the most important thing I can do in my life is to reconnect with the three F's.
Friends, Family, and Faith.
This is what I plan on doing over the course of the next year."
He worked in a plug for the ARP/POV training system and G-Form protective equipment before ending with:
"What does this portend for the future?
We'll see?...God's will be done.
What if God likes to workout at Planet Fitness and train in Under Armour?
Thomas forgot to mention the fourth "f." That would be the f-bomb he dropped on ownership for even thinking about trying to trade him.
Whether or not you're doubting Thomas' sincerity, his contributions to the Bruins during their 2011 Stanley Cup run have earned him eternal thanks and gratitude from everyone in Bruins Nation - whether you're Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian or 1/32nd Cherokee.
Judging by the reaction of many on Thomas' Facebook page, one might think it was his fault the Bruins went 39 years without a Stanley Cup.
Nope, credit for that one belongs to the all-of-a-sudden sainted Jacobs family and their utter mis-management of the franchise for the first 30-plus years of its stewardship.
The ownership familia who traded Phil Esposito, allowed Bobby Orr skate as a free-agent, forced Ray Bourque into two decades of title-less servitude before granting him asylum in Colorado and let Harry Sinden drive the Zamboni for three decades has found itself on the back end of Thomas' latest whim.
Thomas did something on the ice that Bourque never did - win a Stanley Cup in Boston. Yet there's little chance he'll be remembered with 1/10th the affection given to Bourque. Bourque gave up his number to honor Espo. Thomas called it quits, in part, due to his concern over the current European economic crisis. You decide which sacrifice was greater.
Connecting with "friends, family and faith" might not be Thomas' only motivating factor here.
Bruins ownership, we're to believe, is besides itself for not being able to pay Thomas the remaining $3 million on his contract - as opposed to shipping him off to Ohio or Alberta. Harvard Peter Chiarelli was so dumbstruck at being outfoxed by "Tea Party Timmy" that the Bruins GM forgot to take his phone off "echo" during Friday's conference call that confirmed reports the goalie was indeed thinking of sitting out next season.
Thomas has something that few athletes who ever wore a Bruins jersey have ever possessed and even fewer have used - leverage. When athletes like Thomas or Logan Mankins use that leverage and walk, ownership and fans get ticked off. "Hell, I'd go out there for one-100th that amount and be happy." Of course, you've never played in a Super Bowl with a torn ACL or stopped the Vancouver Canucks cold on their home ice in Game 7.
Thomas is doing what many people would love to do but can't afford - walk off the job until they get what they want from their boss. Columbus, start looking for another goalie.
Playing the "friends, family and faith" card is an easy move. It sure beats being called a "quitter." Not sure what's worse, an athlete who sticks around too long (see Jason Varitek) or someone like Thomas who walks while still under contract. Rarely do athletes exit at the perfect time. It's usually messy. This is no different. Thomas is far from the first "free-spirit" on the Boston sports scene. Bill Lee, Derek Sanderson and Ken Harrelson preceded him by several decades. He's just coming from a different right-field.
Too bad J.D. Drew never tried to re-connect with his "three fs" after that grand slam in 2007. Or how about John Lackey, Carl Crawford or Dice-K giving it a shot? That would have give John Henry more than enough money to re-stock the backfield in Liverpool.
From the Bruins' perspective, Thomas is being selfish and putting himself first. That's exactly what the Bruins' current ownership did while it allowed the old Boston Garden deteriorate into an embarrassing rodent-infested edifice with so many blocked seats its official sponsor was "Obstructed View." Even with a new building, the Jacobs family low-balled its top players for another decade. And it took another five or six years after the wallet cracked before a winner was put on the ice.
Thomas is helping out at least one of his teammates. Tuukka Rask's value increased exponentially with this decision. Tuukka will happily take Thomas to Finland or anywhere else he'd like to go pending the outcome on Nov. 4.
The $5 million "cap hit" dilemma is a smoke screen. Hard to believe there's no way the Bruins would not fight this if Thomas remains a no-show or try to restructure another contract to free up enough money to bring in a big name if needed. If free-agent "A" wants to come to Boston, the Bruins can always work out a "wink-wink, nod-nod" deal that they "re-negotiate" after Thomas' cap space is eventually cleared. Why is the NFL salary cap a joke but the NHL salary cap set in stone like the tax code? And once the Los Angeles Kings wrap up the Stanley Cup, the NHL collective bargaining agreement and everything in it is on the table - no doubt Don Jacobs can work something out with his fellow owners to mitigate Thomas' blow on the books.
Just a couple of weeks after taking the needle against Washington in the first round of the playoffs, the Bruins were named "Sports Team of the Year" for winning the Cup in 2011. Anyone who watched 10 minutes of the 2011 postseason knows that there was no other goalie on the planet at that time who could have done a better job in bringing the Cup back to Boston than Thomas. He is responsible for the 2011 Stanley Cup like Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez and Johnny Damon were responsible for the 2004 World Series trophy and Adam Vinatieri got a load of credit for the first two if not all three of New England's Super Bowl victories. They all left Boston/Foxborough under-less-than-ideal circumstances.
Strip away the bluster and emotion and every one of those decisions was based on one thing - money.
We don't do politics here, unless we're making fun of athletes trying to be serious about politics or Mayor Menino giving Varitek a Super Bowl ring. Still the best sports political video ever:
The most intense "good riddance" vitriol against Thomas appears to be coming from people who remain upset with his political views and/or his decision to skip the team's visit to the White House. The narrative continues that somehow the team fell apart because Thomas had the nerve to go public with his political views, which were old news to his teammates. We could also use that slightly-flawed logic to explain Ray Allen's lackluster performance during the playoffs on the fact that he addressed a fundraiser for the Commander in Chief last year and has been outspoken (along with Doc Rivers) about his support for the president. Doc and Ray are at odds with Danny Ainge when it comes to the 2012 campaign. But the only "D" that matters for them is "defending D-Wade."
The biggest Washington distractions for Bruins this season were the Capitals ability to score in overtime and the play of Braden Holtby. Thomas was good, not great, in the playoffs and the Bruins are on the back nine instead of gearing up for Game 3 against Los Angeles in part because of that.
After age 38, the only athletes who improve over time are knuckleballers and NASCAR drivers. Goalies, quarterbacks and shooting guards trend in the other direction. There's no denying Thomas slipped between the pipes this season. At times, it appeared his heart wasn't in it. If that's the case, be thankful he's getting out now.
Thomas could give the Bruins at least one more Cup run, if not two. But the Bruins are in great shape if he spends the next 18 months re-connecting to his family, campaigning for Mitt Romney or resting up to play for Team Glenn Beck in the 2014 Olympics. With Rask donning the mask, the Bruins should go at least as far in 2013 as they did in 2012.
So thanks for the memories, Tim.
It's Tuukka time.
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