- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas declined to expound Thursday on the latest political statement posted to his Facebook page, telling reporters repeatedly he was "going to remain silent" about it.
Thomas posted a brief statement on Wednesday afternoon expressing his support of the Catholic church, though he did not indicate the impetus for the posting. The Catholic church has been in the news in recent days for its opposition to new rules that could require many religious employers to include birth-control medication coverage in their health insurance programs.
Thomas' statement read: "I Stand with the Catholics in the fight for Religious Freedom" and included a famous quote from Martin Niemöller, a German anti-Nazi theologian who criticized Germans for not squashing the Nazis rise to power:
"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist," read the first part of the Niemöller quote posted by Thomas. "Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Thomas was peppered with questions about the post at Thursday's practice, but answered them all the same way.
"I say, that's my personal life and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Bruins or hockey, and I'm going to use my right to remain silent," Thomas said.
Thomas' latest political commentary comes in the wake of his highly publicized boycott of the Bruins' trip to the White House last month to celebrate their Stanley Cup victory. Thomas skipped that session, according to his Facebook page, because he believed, in part, "the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People."
In the days that followed, Thomas refused to elaborate on the White House boycott.
He was asked Thursday at practice whether he wanted to get into politics after his career was over.
"That's my personal life that has nothing to do with the Bruins or hockey and I'm going to remain silent," he said.
Reporters persisted, asking if his stance on public issues would affect the team.
"That's my personal life and it has nothing to do with the Bruins or hockey," Thomas responded. "I'm going to plead the Fifth."
The questions continued: Did he have anything else to share?
"If I do, I'll do that in my personal life and not in this venue," he said.
But Facebook is a public forum, right?
"It is and you have the right to ask the question, but I have the right to not answer the question," Thomas replied.
If it's on Facebook, why wouldn't he comment on it?
"This is my job. Facebook is my personal life, that's why," Thomas said. "If you guys don't understand the difference between an individual and what they do as a job, or an athlete and his personal life, then I think there's a problem."
Does he consider a professional athlete to be a public figure?
"I don't think when you become an athlete you sign away your right to be an individual and to have your own views, and to be able to post them on Facebook if you'd like," he said.
A reporter tried to ask another question, but Thomas cut in: "All right, enough of this. That's my personal life and it has nothing to do with hockey or the Boston Bruins and I'm not going to address it. You guys can keep asking, we can do this every day, but from now on the first question I get about it every day, I'm done interviewing for that day."
One last inquiry from a media member: "Do you regret writing it?"
"I'm out. Peace."
With that, Thomas walked out of the media scrum and into the shower.
Bruins coach Claude Julien made it a point to say anything Thomas says would not impact what happens on the ice or in the locker room.
"I don't think so," Julien said when asked of Thomas' views and Facebook postings had become a distraction. "But again, I don't think I've heard anybody, starting with our owners, to management, to coaches and players, I don't think I've heard anybody support his opinions but I've heard everybody support him as a player and we do.
"We've got good team chemistry in that dressing room and I've said it before, we don't mix politics with our hockey team and that continues to happen. It's probably something people would like to think because of how poorly we've played lately but I assure you that there's no issues in the dressing room and there will never be. We've got a really good group of players in there that don't let those kind of things bog them down and it hasn't. If it had, I'd be telling you right now, I'd feel it. There's absolutely nothing going on. Guys are just going about their business so certainly not a distraction and will never be used as an excuse because it isn't one."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
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