When Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas opted not to attend a White House celebration of his team's 2011 Stanley Cup championship, the reactions were all over the map.
Some lauded the boldness of his Federal government protest. Some called him selfish. Some attempted to mine humor from the controversy. TSN's veteran announcer Dave Hodge? He decided to make a joke about the Ku Klux Klan involving Thomas's children.
It's one level of poor taste to bring a guy's kids into it. Evoking a racist, murderous and deplorable organization because of Thomas's political views quickly drew its own rebuke from blogs and hockey fans.
On the night of the controversy, Hodge's Twitter feed was removed from the "personalities" widget on TSN.ca. (It's since been added back). On Jan. 24, Hodge published a "clarification" of his comment:
On Jan. 25, Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe & Mail covered the controversy and received comments from Hodge's superior at TSN:
TSN had trepidations about Hodge using the names of Thomas's children to connect him to a racist organization known for lynching and burning crosses. "Just to be clear, yesterday we corroborated Dave's follow-up tweets that clarified his intention was not to offend, and be humorous," TSN president Stewart Johnston told us in an e-mail. "While I believe 100 % in the sincerity of Dave's intent, I also believe the tweet was in poor taste. We have discussed the matter at length with Dave. Beyond that, this is an internal matter and will be dealt with as such."
Dowbiggin's take: "On this one he should be glad he works for such an understanding network. Other organizations might not have been as understanding."
This is something Hodge understands more than most, having seen a high-profile gig with CBC end in 1986 on a pencil flip.