Bruins goalie Tim Thomas again finds himself at the center of a discussion over an expression of his beliefs.
Thomas yesterday posted a message to his official Facebook page that begins with “I Stand with the Catholics in the fight for Religious Freedom,” and is followed by a quote from a German pastor named Martin Niemoller.
There is no explanation on the post about why he made the statement.
After today’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, Thomas shed little light on that when he tried to maintain that his hockey life and his private life were separate matters.
“I say that’s my personal life and that has absolutely nothing to do with the Bruins or hockey and I’m going to use my right to remain silent,” Thomas said repeatedly, when peppered about his decision to post his political views on Facebook.
Asked if he had any other views to share, Thomas said, “If I do, I’ll do that in my personal life and not in this arena.”
When it was pointed out that Facebook was a public forum, Thomas agreed.
“It is,” he said. “You have the right to ask the question, but I have the right to not answer the question.”
Asked if he had received any comments about his views, Thomas replied, “I think that’s my personal life and it has nothing to do with hockey or the Boston Bruins. I’m not going to comment on it in this forum.”
When he was pressed on the matter, and asked why he would post his political views on a public forum then refuse to talk about it in the locker room, Thomas replied, “This is my job. Facebook is my personal life. That’s why. If you guys don’t understand the difference between an individual and it having nothing to do with a job and an athlete and his personal life then I think there’s a problem.
“I don’t think that when you become an athlete that you sign away your right to be an individual,” Thomas said, “and to have your own views and to be able to post them on Facebook, if you like,”
When he was peppered with yet another question on the matter, Thomas cut short another question, threatening to end the interview.
“Enough of this, this is my personal life and it has nothing to do with hockey or the Boston Bruins,and I’m not going to address it,” he said. “You guys can keep asking. You can do this every day. From now on, first question I get on it every day, I’m done interviewing for that day.”
When asked if he had any regrets posting his remarks, Thomas followed through on his threat and ended the interview, saying, “I’m out — peace.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was not concerned that Thomas’ off-ice political views would become a distraction to the team.
“I don’t think I’ve heard anybody, starting from our owners to our coaches to our management, I don’t think I’ve heard anybody support his opinions,” Julien said. “But I’ve heard everybody say that we support him as a player — and we do.
“We’ve got good team chemistry in that dressing room,” Julien said. “Guys certainly don’t, as I’ve said before, we don’t mix politics with the hockey team and that continues to happen. It’s probably something that people would like to think because of how poorly we’ve played lately, but I assure you there’s no issues in the dressing room and there never will be.
“We’ve got a really good group of players in there that don’t let those kinds of things bog them down,” Julien said. “If it had, I’d be telling right now that I’d feel it, and there’s absolutely nothing going on. Guys are just going about their business. It’s certainly not a distraction and will never be used as an excuse, because it isn’t one.”
Thomas made national headlines in January when he decided not to join the Bruins at a reception held by President Barack Obama at the White House to honor their Stanley Cup championship. He explained the absence by posting a statement about his political beliefs on Facebook. His actions led to much debate over the way he expressed himself.