WASHINGTON – The Capitals made their long-awaited visit to the White House on Monday to celebrate their 2018 Stanley Cup.
Players, coaches and team owners and executives surrounded President Trump and the Stanley Cup, which stood on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. The event came just 16 days before Washington begins its defense of the Cup when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin on April 10.
“We welcome most importantly the entire Capitals team,” President Trump said. “They're winners. They know how to win and I think you're going to see that starting in a little while.”
The Capitals arrived at The White House at about 2 p.m. for a 45-minute tour of the West Wing. After that, they waited in the Roosevelt Room until summoned to the Oval Office to meet Trump, who lauded their 2017-18 season, noted their win over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and asked “How are they doing?”
Trump asked captain Alex Ovechkin, defenseman John Carlson and owner Ted Leonsis to say a few words. He ribbed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. And, no, the team was not fed fast food as some of the college championship teams have been in recent months, especially during the 35-day government shut down in December and January.
All Capitals players still on the team and eligible to attend were there save for goalie Braden Holtby and forward Brett Connolly. Devante Smith-Pelly, who scored the game-tying goal in the decisive Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, is in the minors with AHL Hershey and previously said he would not attend.
A clean-cut Ovechkin was compared to Babe Ruth by Trump for his combined 64 goals last year between the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs. Trump also said daughter Ivanka is a big fan of the Washington captain. Ivanka Trump was in attendance. President Trump compared Carlson to Hockey Hall-of-Famer Bobby Orr, but Carlson, who was born in Massachusetts, knew better than to let that comparison to the Boston sports legend go.
“He’s a LOT better than me,” Carlson said.
“My speech is gonna be much easier than it was in the [championship] parade,” Ovechkin said, referencing his profane, entertaining ode to the fans last June 12. “But thank you very much for having us. It's huge honor for us to be here and meet you personally. We're gonna try to do it again. We have same team, experienced team, very good group of guys and we're gonna try to do it again.”
After select media members were let into the Oval Office for a photo opportunity, Capitals players and staff took individual photos with the President and were able to have brief conversations with him. Players were given souvenir pens and candy.
"You brought the Stanley Cup home. Thousands of adoring fans greeted you. They were all over the place,” Trump said. “And I have a feeling you're going to be doing it again. You're champions. You have a champion's heart…and I just want to wish you a lot of luck. In Washington that's all that they want to talk about. They don't want to talk about anything else. I can't get the subject on to anything else, so you've got to win quickly because we've got to get back to work.”
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: