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What... a "blast"? Cory Schneider weighs in on the subject of Tim Thomas' decision

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Cory Schneider - the Boston-born Canuck goaltender, has offered his opinion on Tim Thomas' decision to abstain from the White House visit.

Schneider, like Thomas, is an American citizen, but identifies with his country in a different way than Tim Thomas does, and when asked what he thinks, he expressed as much. Schneider, a young, emerging star with the Canucks, obliged the media scrum that has engaged in a feeding frenzy over Tim Thomas' conscientious objection to attending the White House. Cory expressed an opinion that is popularly held on the issue - that he felt Thomas could have taken an hour and attended the ceremonial event. Schneider's opinion is not going to hurt Tim Thomas any more than all the other opinions that have been expressed - they may however, add a little heat and another dimension to the Canucks-Bruins rivalry.

It is worth noting that the Vancouver papers were anxious to solicit an opinion from Schneider, and the description he "blasted" Thomas came from a Boston source, NESN - sources which no doubt saw some value in the opportunity to fuel the Canucks-Bruins rivalry.

Here's how Schneider was quoted in the Vancouver Sun:

“Every person is entitled to their rights, that’s the point of the constitution,” Schneider said. “You can have free speech, free religion, politics and all that stuff. So it’s absolutely Tim’s right. His beliefs are his own and that’s fine. It’s just the timing is a little odd. If your entire team is going, it’s about the team to kind of put your own agenda aside and maybe just show up in support. Obviously he believes strongly in his political views, but, as an American, I think we all have a little bit of respect for the position of the president. Whether you like the guy or not, he’s the president of the United States. Tim has made a great living and a great career in the United States and I’m sure he’s benefitted from tax-paying dollars and every other right that as an American citizen we all enjoy. It’s a little bit of a slight to sort of forget all that and choose to do this.”

Here's how Schneider was quoted in the Province:

“I’m not that religious but if I had the chance to meet the Pope, it’d be pretty cool,” Schneider said. I don’t believe in everything the Catholic church does, but I’d still show up to the Vatican and say Hi to the Pope. I have no problem with his personal beliefs, but (Thomas) can suck it up for an hour, say Hi and be with the team, and avoid all of this. Respect the (Presidency). He plays for Team USA and he has no problem making millions of dollars in the USA but he can’t go say Hi to the President. You get a lot of benefits living in the US and he should have little bit of respect for that. It’s just the timing. It’s poor timing. It’s about putting your own agenda aside to do something with the team whether you like the guy or not.”

For people who agree with what Thomas did, Cory's comments aren't necessarily reason to disrespect the young goaltender - he too had the right to express his opinion. Perhaps Cory did not satisfy some people's expectations that he be a critically minded, dissenting and politically motivated American citizen. Being a Boston native, obviously media were looking for input from him. Thomas made a decision to abstain - Cory would have gone - fair enough. People don't always agree - not exactly shocking material despite the sensationalized description that he "blasted" Thomas. The result sparked quite the debate on CDC. I personally don't expect Schneider nor Thomas to speak as though they have post-doctorates in political theory - that does not mean that they do not have their right to their opinions and to make their decisions based upon them. Nor does it mean that we should assume that either of them are less than highly intelligent. These are opinions that have been expressed, they are not stated like facts - they are both entitled to them, and there is nothing wrong with either of them speaking their minds. Schneider suggested that Thomas could "suck it up for an hour", which wasn't really his call, but otherwise the tone of what he said sounds fairly apolitical.

We might see Schneider's comment in a different or opposite way to those of Thomas' - as a team-mate stepping in to share in the scrum. Given the heat that exists between Thomas and Luongo, Schneider may be to seen to be stirring the pot a little, while Luongo chose not to comment on the political circus. Schneider doesn't have to remain moot - perhaps there was a slight motivation or opportunity to 'backup" his team-mate, when Luongo wasn't particularly motivated to join in this debate. We may even see it as a tactical move in the hockey version of psychological warfare between heated rivals, and fair enough, given the Bruins penchant for scrumming it up. Or perhaps Schneider's comments were motivated instead by the fact he is a young individual who loves his country and the benefits of being an American, despite its faults. Some may applaud Schneider for expressing his acceptance of the state-of-things, and isolating Thomas further, some may ask whether it really helps to further isolate people who appear alienated by their government, or to uncritically accept the USA as-is. Whatever people may think, Schneider and Thomas have expressed their American identity in different ways - in the end, both have a responsibility to themselves to do their best, and I would be willing to bet that is what they were both doing. Many people have seemed inclined to consider Thomas an evil simpleton - but I find that kind of dismissal more offensive than his objection to attend the White House. Thomas is a complicated human like the rest of us - and no doubt if any of us were to sit down and talk with him at length, we would agree on many things and disagree on many others. We don't really know what Thomas main concerns are - we can make assumptions, but his statement wasn't that definitive and he has avoided participating in an even greater debate. He is not simply a coward because he chose to handle the difficult circumstances as he has - he has undoubtedly thought long and hard about how to manage the tight situation he felt he is in.

We can make assumptions about Schneider as well, but he too only had so much to say on the issue. For the most part he seems to be obliging popular media expressions on the issue - some people don't agree with what they feel is an endorsement of the good-life in America, while others appreciate that he sees his country in a positive light and is doing his best to look on the bright side of things. Regardless, I appreciate that Cory spoke his mind (it would be interesting to know whether he was seeking to, or prompted) - and I appreciate that Thomas did so as well - there is nothing wrong with those who the general trend may suggest are "unqualified" to have opinions, go ahead nevertheless and express them. In my opinion the thing that is most problematic in all of this, is the intolerance - that they should dare say something political. I don't watch hockey to hear about politics and I have expressed that before, but when politics appears to, or arguably steps into the arena of sports, athletes are as entitled as anyone else to have their two-bits in the larger dialogue (if that dialogue is still permitted). In the end, there is an endless amount of debating that can take place over all the issues in question - some want to engage in that, and others don't. Sometimes the dialogue breaks down, and dips into disdain and mean-spirited arguments - and listening to each other ceases. It happens. But hopefully we can surface for air, let the differences be tolerated and continue to engage with issues without descending into further tearing away at the fabric of our societies. When we do get around to playing games again, the unifying elements of sport might be appreciated as much as the competition, and everyone better for it. As Carey Price stated, the Bruins will be ok, because they are winners. I would add that win or lose, the same can be said of players in the NHL in general, even if only one team in the end is generally perceived to be winners. It would be nice if politics turned out to have a similar quality, because in politics we can't really afford to have only one ultimate winner.

As far as I am concerned, neither Schneider nor Thomas should be vilified for speaking up. Apparently a lot of people think that Schneider should not have spoken his mind. Who know - he may regret participating in the scrum, or he may stand by what he said. I've read that Tim Thomas has been nominated the "worst person in the world" as a result of his stand. That is quite a conclusion. It seems to me to be incredibly intolerant and definitely no more intelligent that what either goaltender has said. Was Thomas' conscientious objection and a short statement all that it takes to earn such a distinction? If the general concensus is that hockey players should just shut up about stuff like this, and leave the talking to the media and the politicians... I find that kind of conclusion entirely unconvincing (particularly in a country where actors and wrestlers have crossed over into political office). Is that the state of official (in)tolerance? Are the professional media and politicians the only people entitled to political opinions? Clearly Thomas has not harmed the standard of tolerance at all, nor has Cory Schneider in disagreeing with him. Ironically, as things stand in the USA, hockey players may actually contribute to raising the level of the debates.


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Big thumbs-up to Schneids for givin' out his point of view. Add me to list of folks callin' out Timmy-T for political grand-standing at the expense of his teammates. In the USA this act is akin to flag-burnin' & he was a coward to abandon his teammates & leave them to face the media-scrutiny without him. His chosen form of protest diminished the enjoyment of the day for the Boston Bruins organization & their supporters. If the Bruins fail to discipline Thomas - for skippin' an important team event - they are then complicit & approving of his actions.

A fine would be the appropriate thing. We know Thomas can afford it....& the Bruins aren't likely to suspend him. But - if there's NO discipline here...the Bruins can just sit back & see what "political interference" disrupts their operations - next!

Then again - maybe this is exactly what the Boston Bruins' team-strategy is all about...distracting side-shows & lots of drama! It totally worked for them during the 2011 SC play-offs....so why not stay that course for 2012? Yah - the Bruins suck! Canucks' fans can only hope that by snubbin' the President-of-the-free-world...it's gonna mean "curses" for our foes the B's!

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Freedom of speech at it's finest. Thomas did not hurt anyone, he just felt he had to do what he felt was right in his own mind . Corey did the very same. That is the beauty of these two countries. Who is anyone to judge ? All of us that live in North America should be thankful that freedom of speech is even allowed. Suck it up and move on people.

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