(Reuters) - President Barack Obama congratulated the Boston Bruins on Monday for their 2011 Stanley Cup championship, saluting it as a victory for teamwork and loyalty, though one important teammate was missing.

In a White House gathering, Obama told the Bruins their victory over the Vancouver Canucks in a seven-game series demonstrated their commitment to the game and to each other as well the loyalty of the team's fans.

And together, these players proved that teamwork is everything. It can overcome injuries, it can overcome long odds, he said.

The wise old man of the team, (right wing) Mark Recchi, summed up the season by saying, 'We played together, we drank together,' -- how much did you drink? -- 'we lost together, and we never wavered.'

Championship teams of the major sports typically meet the president in a friendly photo opportunity lacking controversy.

But goalie Tim Thomas, most valuable player in the playoffs, opted out of the ceremony, the Bruins said on their website. The team did not give a reason but Thomas is known for his conservative politics, and his absence generated a flurry of commentary on Twitter and Thomas' Facebook page.

Center Marc Savard, who is recovering from a concussion, and winger Michael Ryder, now with the Dallas Stars, also were absent, the Bruins said.

Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli told reporters he expected Thomas to explain his reasons on Facebook at some point.

The Bruins' victory was their first Stanley Cup win since 1972 and the latest in string of championships by Boston professional sports teams.

In what could be another Boston title, the New England Patriots qualified for Super Bowl by beating the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 on Sunday. The Patriots will face the New York Giants on February 5 in Indianapolis.

The Bruins, the Sox, the Celtics, now the Patriots. Enough already, Boston, Obama said to laughter. What's going on, huh?