The Washington Capitals celebrated the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title with a joyous parade on the streets of downtown Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The Capitals waited 43 years as an organization for this moment, captain Alex Ovechkin his entire 13-year career thus far. Now with the Cup in tow, several players including Ovechkin reportedly would accept an invitation to the White House, if one is offered, according to Samantha Pell of the Washington Post.
“Yeah looking forward,” Ovechkin told the Washington Post. “Can’t wait. I’ve never been there. Only taken pictures around it. It will be fun.”
Lars Eller stated he expected to go. For the most part the answers of the players reflected on the White House and not United States President Donald Trump. As with most NHL teams, the Capitals are comprised of an international roster. Of the 16 players who gave statements according to Pell, three were American. Each expressed the same sentiments about the tradition of visiting the White House not per say who was in office.
Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik, who visited the White House after winning the 2009 Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins was among those who said he would go to the White House.
“The time you actually spend with whoever is in office is about two minutes long. There’s not much interaction with the president, at least from past experience,” Orpik said. “All of a sudden, four years from now or eight years from now, there is somebody in office who you agree with more or whatever. … You don’t get the opportunity back as a team, I know that.
“Whether teams go or they don’t go, for me, personally, and again a lot of people might disagree with this, it’s not you endorsing whoever is in there or supporting whoever is in there. The White House is a very historical, special place in this country and I think it’s an honor to go to the White House. That’s my opinion and I’m not the one making that decision, whether or not we’re going to. So, we’ll see.”
T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Matt Niskanen, and Jay Beagle joined Ovechkin, Eller, and Orpik in expressing desire to accept an invitation from the White House.
Goaltender Branden Holtby said he does not know if he would attend a White House visit but said that is should be a group decision.
“I don’t know. We’re gonna try and make that a group decision, Holtby told the Post. “Weigh the positives and negatives of everything. In any situation like that, you want to make sure you’re doing what’s right for what you believe in and that should take thought and weigh a group decision. We’ll discuss that later.”
This comes roughly a week after Trump said he wouldn’t invite the NBA Champions to the White House after both LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors stated neither team would accept an invitation upon winning the NBA Finals. The Warriors, who won the series for the second straight season, did not visit the White House after last year’s championship. Trump cancelled Super Bowl LII champion-Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit after Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles was reportedly the only player planning to visit.
Devante Smith-Pelly stated he would not go to the White House upon winning the Stanley Cup. He called Trump a “racist and sexist” before the Capitals’ Stanley Cup-clinching Game 5 win.
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz cautioned that no official decision had been made by the team, as he expected the organization to discuss as a team prior to a decision.
“I have my opinion on that which is part of the process of being a championship team and other people have different opinions, so I respect both,” Trotz told The Post. “I haven’t talked to the guys one way or the other. We haven’t had any official team meetings, but I respect both sides, really, I do. Whatever the group decides, we will do it. I don’t know if it will be a full group, a half group, or no group, I have no idea. I think most guys have the tradition part down.”
Last year’s NHL champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, visited the White House. The Houston Astros and New England Patriots have also visited the White House while Trump was in office, although portion of the Patriots’ team including Tom Brady did not visit.