June 14, 2012

Fischler Report: Debating the lasting legacy of Tim Thomas

By Stan Fischler

Tim Thomas' decision to take a sabbatical stirred the Boston Globe's Eric Wilbur to take a distinctly unpopular view of the goalie's surprising move. Wilbur's reaction follows: 

Tim Thomas' historic playoff run led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011. (Getty Images)

It's obviously up to you how you choose to remember Tim Thomas.

I'm going with the guy on the ice, not the lunatic nut job the local media portrays him to be.

Crazy, right?

Oh, sure, the former Bruins goalie's decision to sit out the 2012-13 NHL season reeks of enough oddity to fill a pistachio farm, but lest he who be judged do the stone throwing, or something to that nature.

Thomas has overcome the odds time and time again, the reason why he will always remain a special treasure for generations.

This time though, he may have taken too big of a bite.

"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," Thomas wrote on his personal Facebook page over the weekend.

"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."

A year ago Thomas was a 3-2 loser against the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final. You know what happened in the coming days. Thomas would give up just three more goals over the next five games, two after being called out by Roberto Luongo, as the Bruins made their magnificent run to the Stanley Cup. 

Didn't have any problem with him then, did you?

But now that he believes something different than you do, he's Enemy No. 1? Or, at least that is how he's portrayed in some facets of the media. Funny, I thought it was your God-given right to have freedom of speech.

"Easy story lines," writes Kirk Minihane on WEEI.com, "but you and I know the portrait would have been different if Thomas had made it easier for himself by directly telling the media -- instead of using Facebook -- why he skipped the White House and why he's probably taking this year off.

“But he had no interest in doing that and the folks writing and covering this team couldn't deal with it. And P.S., it doesn't help that his political leanings don't exactly fall in step with plenty of the folks writing about all this."

Bingo.

There are reasons why people shy away from discussing politics, religion, and the fact that "Attack of the Clones" was actually pretty good.

There is such a vile need for people to project their own views upon those they disagree with. Those who choose to discuss their beliefs are free to do so, of course, at the risk of being outcast by others. 

Is Thomas screwing the Bruins with the $5 million cap hit? Yup. Is that unfair? You bet.

If he had retired, it could have been worse. How that makes sense is beyond me.

But in the end, it's his life. His. It's not your life, it's not Stan Fischler's, and it's not Tim from Canton's. It's his.

What right does anybody with the least bit of humility have telling Thomas how he should act, walk, and talk?

So the man posts on Facebook, something that has become a tired joke within the confines of the hockey media.

You know who else posts on Facebook? My local Home Depot announcing a sale on red cedar mulch. Big deal, right?

That's not the case when it comes to Thomas though, the media breathlessly hovering over his Wall to see what kind of crazy thing he'll say next.

Thomas should have gone down as the ultimate feel-good story, a journey good enough for an after school special.

Instead, he'll be portrayed as a selfish quitter by people who clearly don't take enough time to hug their kids.

But this is how I choose to remember Tim Thomas.

Crazy, right?

If you want to remember him as a looney bunker guy, that's your call. If you can't ignore the noise and appreciate what he delivered, that's your right too. 

Professional athletes are professional athletes. They're not your children. What do you care how they conduct themselves? Why should you?

Against the grain, Tim Thomas made a worldwide name for himself. Now he's doing it again for an entirely different and odd reason.

The memories are fresh, but the criticism is even fresher. I'll take the former and like it just because I choose to do so. You want to do otherwise, go right ahead. 

I'm just not going to listen.

OBSERVATIONS

* MICHEL THERRIEN’S appointment as Canadiens coach has received at best mixed reviews in Montreal – and elsewhere. We’ve always been pro-Therrien and feel confident that he’s learned from any mistakes of the past. There’s nothing wrong with bringing a mentor out of retirement. Exhibit A is Darryl Sutter!

* DALE TALLON’S contract extension  underlines a point obvious to all who follow Florida hockey. And that is, the Panthers are now a team to be reckoned with and we expect even an even stronger team in Sunrise led by Tallon and his excellent deputies, Mike Santos and Kevin Dineen.

* STEVE TAMBELLINI survived in Edmonton, getting an extension on his contract while Tom Renney is history. Is that justice? By rational standards, no but by NHL law the good guys don’t always win. After dismal finishes, Tambellini now must find a replacement coach and as many observers agree (see Terry Jones below) Tambellini better get the right the one or he is out.

A GOOD EXPLANATION FOR MOORE’S ABSENCE

Sharks forward and Harvard alum Dominic Moore wasn’t available throughout the post-season, leaving fans and media wondering why?

The club released the following statement from Moore and if you give it a careful read, you'll understand that the player did the right thing by his family.

"There have been a lot of questions and concerns raised since it was revealed that I had to miss several games of the Sharks/Blues playoff series due to a family matter and I wanted to update extended family, friends, and former teammates on our situation.

"Towards the end of the 2011-12 season, my wife, Katie, began feeling ill. We visited with local doctors, who suggested running a variety of tests to ascertain the cause of the issue.

“Ultimately, Katie was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer and it was recommended that she undergo surgery, which took place in California in April.

"While it was disappointing to not be able to compete with my Sharks teammates in the playoffs, my wife's condition and care come first and I want to thank the Sharks organization, my teammates and their families for the love and support that has been shown to Katie and I during this difficult time.

"We continue to pursue the best treatment and care for Katie."

OUR CONCLUSION: We wish the Moores well.