(a man likely to be despised and ridiculed by persons of all political persuasions. And on the right, Tim Thomas)

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas declined to attend the defending Stanley Cup Champions’ visit to the White House earlier today, and while last spring’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner isn’t speaking to the press about his absence, it is presumed the avowed Glenn Beck fan would prefer not to be seen yucking it up with the incumbent Commander In Chief. Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski supports the act of defiance, opining, “good on Thomas for using this moment — where a professional sports team participates in what’s both an honor for their accomplishments and a political photo opportunity — to make a political statement of his own.”

It’s the moment when Thomas will no doubt lose a lot of supporters, for sure, when they realize an athlete they celebrate has stark political differences than they have. He’s not the first nor the last athlete to choose not to visit the White House.

It’s a moment in which a professional athlete uses his fame, his influence for something he believes in, and does something that won’t be popular among fans or media. Sean Avery did the same thing: Potentially alienating his teammates by taking a political stand on gay marriage.

If he’s celebrated and Thomas is demonized, what does that say about our real tolerance of free speech? That it’s only free when we agree with it?

(And for the “separation of politics and hockey” crowd — that flies out the window when you agree to be a backdrop to a speech in an election year. Or any year.)

I get the gist of Wyshynsk’s argument, however, a cursory check of obscure search engine Google reveals little if any criticism, let alone “demonization”. Either hockey fans are apolitical, share his views/biases or most likely, are willing to tolerate all sorts of things so long as Thomas performs on the ice.