- Bruins' Tim Thomas says he opposes "out of control" government growth
- The team president expressed disappointment at Thomas' decision
- Thomas is an NHL all star who led Boston to the Stanley Cup championship last year
Opposed to what he called the "out of control" growth of the federal government, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas declined an invitation to join his teammates at the White House on Monday.
The award-winning Thomas, who last year led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup championship emblematic of National Hockey League supremacy, was one of three players missing when President Barack Obama met with the team to offer congratulations.
According to a story on the team's website, www.bostonbruins.com, Thomas "opted out" of the White House visit. One of the other missing players was injured, and the third now plays for another team, according to the website story.
A statement by the 37-year-old Thomas posted Monday on the team website said he opposed the "out of control" growth of the federal government that threatened "the rights, liberties, and property of the people."
"This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the federal government," the statement said. "Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL."
The statement ended by saying: "This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic." It concluded with the initials "TT."
Thomas is an NHL all star who last season won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
A separate statement by Bruins team president Cam Neely, a former star player for the team, expressed disappointment at the decision by Thomas.
Calling the invitation from Obama an honor, Neely said it was a "great day and a perfect way to cap our team's achievement from last season."
"It was a day that none of us will soon forget," Neely's statement said. "We are disappointed that Tim chose not to join us, and his views certainly do not reflect those of the (Bruins owner Jeremy) Jacobs family or the Bruins organization. This will be the last public comment from the Bruins organization on this subject."
Others who took part in the White House visit described it as a special occasion.
"It's hard to describe because you use the same words over and over again," head coach Claude Julien said, according to the team website. "Honor is at the top of the list, privilege is another one -- humbling. You can go on and on about this. It's unbelievable.
Captain Zdeno Chara, a native of the Slovak Republic, said the chance to meet Obama and hear him mention Chara's name was "a great feeling."
"It was great to be recognized as a team and then obviously as an individual," Chara said. "It's an honor and a privilege to be in that kind of speech."
In remarks to the team and a large group of obvious Bruin supporters gathered for the occasion, including Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Obama joked about the team's playoff beards -- a tradition from not shaving throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs -- and Chara's 6-foot-9 frame that makes him the league's tallest players.