Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference  checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning and spent some time addressing the issue of whether Tim Thomas ‘ political statements have become a distraction to the team.
The Bruins have struggled to a 5-6-1 record since Thomas ignited the controversy by skipping the team’s trip to the White House on Jan. 23. Thomas on Thursday told the media that he would not answer questions about politics any more.
“I think when he doesn’t want to talk about it in the locker room, I think he’s trying to not be a distraction,” Ference said. “Like I said, in this city you definitely have to be aware of the fact that whether you like it or not, your comments and your actions are going to be scrutinized. And to a certain extent, rightfully so. We’re compensated very well to be sports figures in this town, which also comes with a certain responsibility socially.”
Added Ference: “He makes the views pretty clear. I don’t think he leaves too many blank spaces for people to guess where he stands. So, it’s his choice whether to answer or not. I think he makes it more difficult on himself not to just talk about it if he’s going to put it out there. But for us as teammates, it’s really not that difficult. Like I said, we know him. We can kind of just keep our mouths shut about it because nobody really wants to wade into that. I don’t know, it’s a mixed bag, I guess.”
Ference insisted that it doesn’t really matter what Thomas or anyone says, that it comes down to how the Bruins perform on the ice.
“We do have a tight team,” Ference said. “One of the things that makes us pretty strong is we’re very understanding of each other’s differences. … You’re never going to have the same opinions whatsoever. But the thing that makes teams good is their ability to look beyond that and respect each other even if you don’t agree with each other. Our job first and foremost isn’t to be buddies. It’s to be good teammates and play hard for each other and do whatever you can to win hockey games. That’s the most important thing. Good teams and good players realize that, and they can separate the fact that they agree with somebody or not about politics. It really doesn’t matter once you hit the ice.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page .
On if he, as an environmentalist, has political discussions with Thomas: “No, it’s not really a comfortable topic, I don’t think. It’s easier just to not talk about that too much. ‘¦ Everybody’s got their own beliefs and they’re own ideas. Some people are a lot more private or public than others. I think the biggest thing is you believe it and you stand by your actions, you have accountability for your actions and the things that you say. No matter if you’re a hockey player or whatever your lot is in life, accountability is very important. When you make those choices, no matter how public or private you are, as long as you can face the music first, then I think people respect that.
“For myself, I say a certain thing about the environment, but I also live that way every single day. I’m not shy about talking about it. Some people think I’m an idiot, and that’s fine. That comes with the territory. Not everybody’s going to agree with you all the time, and that’s all right. I think he’s going through the same kind of thing. I’m sure he probably has a ton of new supporters that love him, that think he’s the greatest thing on earth, because they really like that opinion. But there’s going to be people that don’t. He has to be aware of that. He’s not that naive to think that everybody agrees with him.”
On the team’s reaction to Wednesday’s 6-0 loss to the Sabres: “Guys have so much pride that they’re battling harder in practice and some of those drills, going harder than they did in the night before. And I think that it wakes guys up when you see it right in front of your eyes and you see teammates just battling in front of the net with each other. You say, ‘Jeez, why weren’t we doing this last night?’ Sometimes you need that wakeup call and just to see it in front of your own eyes to remember how proud you have to be during the games as well.”