Mass. governor against Thomas snub

Updated: January 27, 2012, 1:22 AM ET
ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- A Boston Bruins goalie's decision to skip a White House ceremony with President Barack Obama because he believes the federal government is "out of control" points to a growing lack of courtesy in the country, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday.

Patrick, a Democrat, was asked about the controversy Thursday during his monthly "Ask the Governor" program on WTKK-FM. He didn't directly criticize goalie Tim Thomas but suggested the snub showed disrespect toward the presidency.

"He's a phenomenal hockey player and he's entitled to his views," Patrick said. "It just feels like we are losing in this country basic courtesy and grace."

The governor said that while he strongly disagreed with many of the policies of former President George W. Bush, a Republican, he was always respectful when they met.

"I always referred to him as Mr. President; I stood when he came into the room. There are rules to live by," Patrick said.

Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown echoed Patrick's thoughts.

"I've been invited to the White House and I've gone. While I don't agree with everything the president does, you're going there out of respect for the president, regardless of who it is," said Brown, a Republican. "I would have gone, but Tim also has the right to express himself and stand up for the things he believes. That's the beauty of our country."

The ceremony Monday was to honor the Bruins for winning the Stanley Cup last season, their first championship in 39 years. Thomas was named the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup finals against the Vancouver Canucks.

Thomas explained his choice in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

"I believe the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people," he wrote.

Thomas blamed all three branches of government and both political parties.

"This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country," he said in the statement, adding that he did not plan to speak further about his decision.

Later Thursday, Thomas was selected in the second round of the 2012 NHL All-Star Game fantasy draft by Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, who is captaining Team Chara in Sunday's game.

But following the draft, there weren't too many hockey questions or too much reaction to Thomas' being the first goalie selected.

Instead, he was bombarded with questions surrounding the boycott, and the reigning Vezina Trophy winner was none too happy that the controversy had followed him to Ottawa for All-Star weekend.

After dancing around some White House questions and answering some draft questions, Thomas was asked whether he thought his stance to not address the subject since he released his statement on his Facebook page had caused the story to take on a life of his own.

After a long pause, he replied: "I did address it. Everything I said in my statement was what I believe to be the absolute truth. I don't believe I need to revisit something I stated so clearly."

Thomas wasn't the only All-Star player from the Bruins to get questioned about the controversy.

Asked whether he felt for his teammate falling under the heavy scrutiny, the Bruins' Tyler Seguin stood by his goalie.

"I don't really want him to have to be angry or put on the spot like that," Seguin said. "But it doesn't matter if it's a good or bad choice; he's still teammate, and I'm going to have his back no matter what he goes through."

Information from ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald and James Murphy and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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