WASHINGTON – The Capitals will visit the White House on Monday to be honored by President Trump for their Stanley Cup victory last June.
It is the latest a reigning NHL champion has gone to the White House since President Obama hosted the Los Angeles Kings and Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy in a joint ceremony on March 26, 2013. The Kings did not have a game scheduled in Washington that season because of an NHL work stoppage.
“Yeah, I’m looking forward,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin told reporters on June 14 the day after the championship parade in Washington. “I can’t wait. I never been there. I want to take pictures around it. It will be fun.”
Other Capitals players were more circumspect.
"I don't know. We're gonna try and make that a group decision,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “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."
Forward Brett Connolly said last summer he would not attend. The same went for Devante Smith-Pelly, a black Canadian who is currently in the minor leagues with AHL Hershey.
President Trump has previously rescinded invitations to championship teams when players have publicly said they would not attend. That included the NBA’s Golden State Warriors after their 2017 title and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles after they won the Super Bowl in February, 2018.
The World Series champion Boston Red Sox are scheduled to visit the White House on May 9 after a series in Baltimore. The New England Patriots had an estimated 34 players from their team show for an April 19, 2017 celebration with President Trump. That was about half the number eligible to visit.
The Warriors in 2018 spent their day off during an annual trip to Washington to play the Wizards touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This season the repeat champions took photos in a private meeting with President Obama before their game against the Wizards.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were repeat Stanley Cup champions in 2016 and 2017. Both times they visited the White House in October of the following season – once with President Obama on Oct. 6, 2016 and once with President Trump on Oct. 10, 2017 the day before a game with the Capitals.
Obama hosted his hometown Chicago Blackhawks three times during his eight years in office. Their visit after the 2010 Stanley Cup had to be rescheduled from September to March 11, 2011 because of a scheduling conflict. The Nov. 4, 2013 ceremony came during an NHL lockout and a Feb. 18, 2016 event was the day after a game in New York.
The Kings and Galaxy had a second day together with President Obama on Feb. 2, 2015 after they both won titles again in 2014. Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas declined to attend his team's ceremony with President Obama on March 11, 2011 citing his displeasure with both major political parties.
“I would like to go there. I think the building is pretty cool and everything,” Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom said on June 14. “I’m not going to get into this discussion that a lot of the other athletes have been talking about. I think the building is pretty cool and I think it’s an honor if the President invites you.”
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