The 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins made their long-awaited visit to the White House on Monday, but it was without the one player whose postseason heroics got them there in the first place.
Conn Smythe Trophy winning-goaltender Tim Thomas did not attend the visit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.
The Michigan-born netminder posted an explanation for his absence from the ceremony on Facebook early Monday evening.
"I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People," Thomas' statement read. "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."
"Because I believe this," the statement continued, "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."
Thomas was the only American-born member of the Bruins 2010-11 team to suit up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was also a member of the silver-medal winning U.S. 2010 Olympic men's hockey team.
Bruins president Cam Neely defended the All-Star netminder's decision to skip the event.
"Everybody has their own opinions and political beliefs. He chose not to join us," Neely told Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com at the visit. "We certainly would have liked to have him come and join us. But it's his choice. It's obviously not a choice most of the guys...well all of the guys came except for Tim. But it's his decision and his choice."
The NHL, meanwhile, weighed in on Thomas' decision with a mixed reaction.
"While we do not agree with Tim Thomas' position," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, "the National Hockey League respects and supports his right to have a political view, and his right to express that view in the manner in which he chose."
President Obama honoured the Bruins for their championship won last spring and their charitable work off the ice.
The Bruins won their first Stanley Cup title in 39 years last June when they beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games.
It was the latest in a string of Boston professional sports championships in recent years, including the Celtics in 2008, the Red Sox in 2007 and the New England Patriots in 2005.
The Patriots face the New York Giants in next month's Super Bowl.
Obama says, "the Bruins, the Sox, the Celtics, now the Patriots. Enough already, Boston."
The White House said the Boston Bruins Foundation has donated more than US$7 million to charities in New England.
- with files from the Associated Press