A majority of Washington Capitals players say they would visit the White House, if invited, to celebrate their Stanley Cup title.
The Washington Post spoke with members of the team Wednesday, and many said they’d be on board if President Donald Trump extended an invitation to the team.
“I’ve thought about it. I think it is an amazing tradition that you do,” T.J. Oshie told the Post. “I realize everyone might have different stands on it, but I think going to the White House, whether people are very political or whether you like Trump or not, just kind of in my opinion, it stands for so much more than that. It is something people have been doing for a long time, with so many different presidents, that I think it would be cool for us to go there. … Any excuse to have the Cup with you I think, at least for me, I want to take advantage of it.”
Brooks Orpik, who like Oshie is American, agreed.
“The time you actually spend with whoever is in office is about two minutes long,” he told the Post. “There’s not much interaction with the president, at least from past experience. 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.”
White House invites to championship-winning teams have become a hot-button topic since Trump took office in 2016. Some teams, like the Golden State Warriors and South Carolina women’s basketball team, said they would not attend if invited.
And within the past month, Trump canceled a scheduled White House celebration with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, saying they disagree “with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.” A few days later, Trump said he wouldn’t invite the winning team of the NBA Finals, either.
Trump has yet to invite the Capitals to the White House, according to the Post. And coach Barry Trotz told the newspaper that the Cup champions have yet to meet as a team about what they would do if that invitation were extended.
“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.
“Whatever the group decides, we will do it,” he said. “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.”
Not all Capitals players will be on board. Devante Smith-Pelly previously said he wouldn’t join the team at the White House, and reiterated that to the Post. But he also said he’ll have no hard feelings with whatever his teammates decide.
“Everyone can do whatever they want,” he said. “I will still love [Alex Ovechkin] if he goes and the other guys if they go.”
Ovechkin didn’t seem to hesitate when asked his thoughts.
“Yeah, looking forward,” the Russian star told the Post. “Can’t wait. I’ve never been there. Only taken pictures around it. It will be fun.”