AP NEWS

Capitals visit Donald Trump at White House in honor of Stanley Cup

March 25, 2019

The Washington Capitals were honored at the White House Monday for the 2018 Stanley Cup.

President Trump welcomed the team into the Oval Office and congratulated them, calling them “winners in the highest sense.”

“I really tell you, I think you’re going to have an awfully good chance of doing it again,” Trump said.

Alex Ovechkin said before the visit that he considered it “a huge privilege.” The Russian was looking forward “just to see the building and meet Mr. President and give him some words and that’s it,” he said.

“It’s a huge honor for us to be here, to meet you personally,” Ovechkin told Trump. “We’re going to try to do it again. We have the same team, experienced team, good group of guys. We’re going to try to do it again.”

.@Capitals and @NHL #StanleyCup in White House Oval Office with Pres. Trump#ALLCAPScc: @dcsportsbog @PuckBuddys pic.twitter.com/3tpQXiLhli Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) March 25, 2019

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, team president Dick Patrick and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also made the visit.

Per tradition, the team presented Trump with a Capitals sweater No. 45, for the 45th commander-in-chief.

Two players on the current NHL roster, goaltender Braden Holtby and winger Brett Connolly, declined the invitation to attend. Holtby said the decision had to do with his personal values.

“My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you’re born into. So, I think that’s just where it’s at in terms of this decision,” Holtby said last Friday. “You’re asked to choose what side you’re on, and I think it’s pretty clear what side I’m on. I believe that this is the right decision for myself and my family.”

Another player within the organization, Devante Smith-Pelly, who was a key piece of the Capitals’ postseason run last spring, was also absent. He said last year he felt some of Trump’s rhetoric is “straight-up racist and sexist.”

The event marked the last time the Capitals will see the Stanley Cup before this year’s playoffs begin.

“This has been the one final thing that’s been out there whenever it was going to fall, then that would be basically the last one for me,” coach Todd Reirden said. “That will kind of put a wrap on it and the final chapter of that moving forward into finishing up the regular season here and moving some of that success into playoffs this year.”